AKP plans to hold election in October after party congress

AKP plans to hold election in October after party congress

Nuray Babacan - ANKARA
AKP plans to hold election in October after party congress

AFP photo

As talks with the Republican People’s Party (CHP) for a coalition failed, making an early election this autumn more likely, the leader of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) has also been making preparations for a regular party congress in September.

AKP head and incumbent Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu already made clear earlier this week that he favors holding the party congress in September, before a potential early election. Davutoğlu has until Aug. 23 to find a junior coalition partner or President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan could call a snap election. The prime minister urged parliament not to leave the decision to Erdoğan. If an early election decision is taken by parliament, with support expected to be lent by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), it is estimated at least 55 days are needed to complete the required election calendar, thus pushing the election to Oct. 25.

Davutoğlu wants to strengthen his hand before the election by a renewal of the AKP’s highest decision-making body, the Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK), at a party congress in September and expand his room to maneuver. 

Such a change with Davutoğlu’s young inner circle holding seats at the MKYK will presumably prevent questions from being raised on Davutoğlu’s post in case of a failure in the upcoming elections.

Veteran figures in the party, who are also influential within the MKYK, however, favor postponing the congress, most likely so they can have a say on whether the party should continue its path under Davutoğlu’s leadership or not, depending upon the election results. In addition to consultations at the MKYK meetings, the opinions of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the founding leader of the party which marked the 14th anniversary of its foundation on Aug. 14, will be decisive in Davutoğlu’s final decision on the matter. 

Another contentious issue expected to be addressed at the congress is the party’s internal three-term limit for its deputies. The rule concerns 26 existing members of parliament and 70 former AKP deputies to regain the right to be nominated in upcoming elections after they were dropped from lists due to this rule in the June 7 parliamentary election.

Among those 70 figures, there are senior former members of the Council of Ministers such as Ali Babacan, Bülent Arınç, Ömer Çelik, Faruk Çelik, Hüseyin Çelik, Hayati Yazıcı, Sadullah Ergin, Nihat Ergün, Nimet Baş, Nurettin Canikli, Taner Yıldız and Bekir Bozdağ, as well as parliament’s former speaker, Cemil Çiçek. Allegedly 15-20 of those 70 figures have already decided to directly appeal to become candidates in the election without waiting for an invitation from the party’s leadership.

Kılıçdaroğlu wished Davutoğlu said ‘no way’ from the start

On the CHP front, having dubbed the failure of the coalition talks as “missing a historical opportunity for Turkey,” the party’s leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, voiced his disappointment over the ambiguous approach assumed by the AKP side concerning their willingness to form a government partnership. 

“I announced right from the start four articles: The perception of a new government with a high profile, a four-year long tenure, trust and sincerity. Mr. Davutoğlu agreed to start preliminary negotiations by having known and accepting them. We mentioned the four year [period] at the very beginning. He eventually came to us with a proposal of a three-month-long ‘election government.’ That’s to say, he meant to have elections in November. I wish he had said right from the start that ‘there is no way [for a coalition],’” Kılıçdaroğlu told Deniz Zeyrek of daily Hürriyet. 

“We will not lend support to a decision for an early election. The parliament didn’t set a constitutional commission yet anyway. As to the question ‘What happens next?’ the MHP’s attitude will be significant. Will they choose the mandatory government that the president is forced to establish, or a decision to be made at parliament for an early election? If the MHP doesn’t give its support, the AKP cannot take the decision to go to elections. Then the president should form a government. Otherwise, if they want to go to new elections with an interim government, the legitimacy of the prime minister will be questioned,” he said. 

As to questions concerning the probability of early elections, “I don’t think it is right to cite early elections as our only alternative,” Kılıçdaroğlu replied.