Bargaining gets tougher on gov’t-led election bill

Bargaining gets tougher on gov’t-led election bill

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Bargaining gets tougher on gov’t-led election bill

The AKP government seeks support of opposition parties in order to hold local elections in an earlier date. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

No quick breakthrough appears to be on the horizon concerning the ruling party’s proposal for rescheduling local elections from March 2014 to Oct. 27, 2013, as well as for its bid to lower the age of poll candidates to Parliament from 25 to 18. Both opposition parties have hardened their positions against these proposals.

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) announced its decision not to back the proposal over the weekend. The draft proposes to allow candidates as young as 18 to run for Parliament and grants voting rights to those carrying out their military service. The Justice and Development Party (AKP), who has 326 seats in Parliament, needs the support of either the MHP or the Republican People’s Party (CHP) to be able to amend the Constitution, which requires at least a two-thirds majority of 550 deputies.

“This move should be seen as an attempt of officiousness and opportunism that sabotage the new constitution works,” MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli said. Adding that four parties have been working on rewriting the constitution, Bahçeli expressed his difficulty in understanding the rashness of the government. On rescheduling the poll date, the MHP is introducing a more complex stance due to the fact that the party backed the government’s failed effort to hold the elections on Oct. 27, 2013 instead of March 2014. The MHP officials stress that they have backed the proposal to hold elections on Oct. 27, 2013, but will have to reconsider if the AKP proposes another date.

The AKP-MHP alliance could not obtain the required 367-vote majority last week, sparking a minor crisis in both parties and forcing the ruling party to seek the support of the CHP, which has 135 seats in the Parliament.

CHP: Polls every 5 years

The CHP, however, has no intention to back the government’s efforts to hold local polls five months earlier than usual but is signaling that it could back the idea of changing the age of electability from 18 to 21.

“These are the people who elect mayors. The Constitution says mayors are elected for five years. How come lawmakers can shorten their services?” CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu told reporters over the weekend.
Parliament, meanwhile, began discussions on the government-backed draft law allowing the establishment of 13 greater metropolitan areas in addition to the current 16 in an attempt to give the AKP a poll advantage.