Turkish authorities try to avoid new ‘cat incident’ in presidential elections
ANKARAPolitical parties have intensified their work for the upcoming presidential elections, as authorities seek to avoid the kind of controversies that dogged the local elections in March.
With less than 45 days to go until election day, more than 52 million voters around the country will vote for Turkey’s 12th president.
According to the calendar announced by the Supreme Election Board (YSK), political parties will be able to officially make nominations for the upcoming presidential elections starting June 29 and ending July 3. The campaigning period will begin July 11 after the YSK finalizes the candidates and officially publishes them. The first round of elections will take place on Aug. 10 and, if necessary, the second round will be on Aug. 24.
The prime minister’s office has issued a decree to “avoid problems” throughout the election period, following widely-documented episodes such as power cuts in a number of constituencies during vote-counting in Turkey’s local elections in March. In the latest decree, all relevant government offices are ordered to ensure that the necessary equipment, such as generators, power supplies and other technical equipment is provided.
Back in March, Energy Minister Taner Yıldız had blamed a cat entering a power distribution unit for controversial power blackouts that occurred during the vote-counting process.
“I’m not joking, my friends. A cat entered a power distribution unit. It was the cause of the blackout [in Ankara] and it’s not the first time it has happened. It is wrong to link it with the elections. It’s wrong to cry ‘foul play,’” Yıldız said in the aftermath of the local elections.
‘113 AKP MPs to sign’
Meanwhile, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will submit its official presidential candidate to Parliament on July 1 with a petition signed by 113 lawmakers, AKP Deputy Head Mehmet Ali Şahin told reporters on June 27.
“I do not have the right to disclose [our nominee] at this time, though it seems that our prime minister [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] is going to be our candidate,” Şahin said, indirectly criticizing Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç who had already confirmed that Erdoğan will run for presidency.
Following the announcement of the candidate at a huge ceremony to be held at Ankara’s Chamber of Commerce, with the participation of at least 4,000 people from various AKP branches and organizations, the party will establish a working team to coordinate its election campaign.
İhsanoğlu continues tours in Ankara
The joint candidate of the two biggest opposition parties, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, has also accelerated his efforts to reach out to different political and non-political groups in order to receive broader support for his candidacy. Following his meetings with seven political parties on June 26, İhsanoğlu met with a number of prominent civil society organizations on June 27.
His first meeting was with Metin Feyzioğlu, the chairman of the Turkish Bar Association (TBB), who had earlier been considered as a potential CHP candidate for the election.
“We focused on the rule of law and fundamental articles of the Turkish Constitution in our meetings with the TBB. It’s no doubt that the presidential candidate should be respectful to the articles of [our] Constitution, to the state, and to the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey,” İhsanoğlu said.
Feyzioğlu did not openly support İhsanoğlu, as the TBB is not in a position to support any of the candidates, though he did criticize the government for “discarding key principles” such as the separation of powers and the rule of law. He also stressed the need for “finding common ground in upholding Turkey’s unity and integrity.”
İhsanoğlu also visited the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK), where he held talks with its chairman, Lami Özgen, before performing his Friday prayer at the historic Hacı Bayram Veli Mosque in central Ankara.