Talk of early election gains momentum in capital Ankara, mobilizes top election board
DAILY NEWS PhotoTalk of an early election that has gradually gained momentum in the Turkish capital has prompted the country’s top election board to kick off its preparations for a parliamentary election, which is still currently scheduled for June 7, 2015.
During a meeting held on Oct. 18, the Supreme Election Board (YSK) took a number of decisions, including setting the maximum number of people who can cast their votes at a ballot box as “360+20.”
The YSK also decided to hold a meeting later this week with officials from the Foreign Ministry in order to discuss deficiencies in the “appointment system” implemented for the first time in foreign countries in the August presidential election. The government has blamed problems in the system for the low turnout from expatriate voters.
During the meeting over the weekend, representatives of both the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) proposed annulling the system, and the YSK eventually embraced the idea of letting the almost 3 million Turkish voters abroad cast their ballots at Turkish foreign missions without having an appointment in the future. YSK bodies and the Foreign Ministry are also expected to discuss election safety abroad during their upcoming meeting on Oct. 23.
The issue also came up in the Mediterranean province of Antalya over the weekend, during a meeting held by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
Delivering a public speech on Oct. 18, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli said the elections must be held on the scheduled date in the current circumstances. “Elections can be postponed only in cases of war or similar situations. Therefore, for a Turkey that is not at war, we should definitely hold the elections on June 7,” Bahçeli said.
For his part, AKP Secretary-General Haluk İpek said the issue had not come onto agenda of the party’s related bodies.
Last week, AKP executives, speaking anonymously with private broadcaster CNN Türk, confirmed that parliamentary elections could be held a few months earlier than the scheduled date, but argued that this should not be called an “early election.” The same party executives cited the central university entrance exam scheduled for June as a reason for such rescheduling, CNN Türk reported on Oct. 17.
“The elections should be completed before the exam. However, there is no exact date set for the moment. April may be appropriate,” they reportedly said.
According to CNN Türk, the dates of April 12 and April 26 are being cited as possibilities.
When reminded of the university entrance exam calendar issue, İpek said this could come onto the agenda later.
“As preparation for the possibility of scheduling an earlier date for the election, the YSK has begun required preparations around two months earlier than expected. The elections were originally scheduled for June 7, 2015, so the YSK would be expected to begin preparations in November or December,” Mehmet Hadimi Yakupoğlu, a representative of the CHP at the top board, told Hürriyet.
Another sign indicating the possibility of early elections came from the main opposition CHP following last week’s meeting of the party’s Central Executive Board (MYK) on Oct. 16.
During the MYK meeting, CHP executives agreed to postpone local branches’ congresses to be held after the parliamentary elections because holding them before the parliamentary elections didn’t seem possible, daily Cumhuriyet reported. According to the report, the CHP had heard rumors that the AKP government wanted to hold the elections at an earlier date because of a “decline in the AKP’s votes.”
CHP Secretary General Gürsel Tekin, meanwhile, laid down the gauntlet over any possible plan by the ruling party, saying his party was ready for elections “at any time.”