‘Converse’ election scenarios in Ankara

‘Converse’ election scenarios in Ankara

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
‘Converse’ election scenarios in Ankara

This file photo shows supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) attending a meeting in Kazlıçeşme, Istanbul on June 14. DHA photo

The slowing down of the resolution process following the Gezi Park incidents and recently the news about the military coup in Egypt have deeply affected political scenarios for 2014. These unpredicted domestic and international developments have brought contrary election scenarios. In deep discussions in the capital city, two converse scenarios are being whispered. They are converse because both of them make previous expectations vain and both have setups that would turn the routine calendar for the 2014 period upside down.

The first of the scenarios envisions that three ballots are set up in August 2014. The local elections scheduled for March 2014 and the presidential election in June 2015 will be rescheduled for August 2014. There is no constitutional obstacle to that happening. There is a constitutional clause that says local elections are to be held every five years, but another paragraph allows the simultaneous holding of three elections.

The 127th article of the Constitution, regulating local administrations, has a clause that says: “Local elections one year before or one year after general elections are organized together with general elections.” Based on this article, the ruling party can reschedule the 2015 elections to August 2014, and without any need to change the Constitution, can automatically postpone local elections five months later to August.

Well, what would the ruling party and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gain from the merging of the three elections cause? In this case, Erdoğan might have the opportunity to shoot several birds with one stone. For example, the negative effects of such developments as the Gezi incidents, the stage at which the resolution process stands, international developments, the economic outlook, and the erosion after ruling for more than 10 years, will not be experienced in local elections. He will gain five extra months to make up for a possible negative picture and can spin the period into a favorable one.

A possible loss of strength that might come up in the March local elections, which might create a negative effect on the presidential elections, will thus be eliminated by a postponement. Besides all that, Erdoğan would hold the authority to determine the candidates both in local elections and in general elections. He would select the mayors and the deputies - even if it was for the last time - and would continue maintaining his influence in the party in the post-election period. If he does not wish to switch places with President Abdullah Gül in a similar model to the Putin-Medvedev one, then he can turn the merging of three elections into an advantage. Most importantly, if he is successful in these elections and obtains enough seats in Parliament to change the Constitution, then he may submit the new Constitution, including the presidential system, to society.

No doubt, developments unfolding until the fall will show whether this scenario will be implemented or not. However, in the case that the ruling party wants to hold three elections simultaneously, then it has to push the button immediately after the opening of the Parliament in October, because the March 2014 local elections calendar will start on December 2013.

In another converse scenario that is being whispered about in Ankara - but which has a very low chance of happening - is an “ambush” election in the fall. There is no such tendency yet in the government or the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), but there are assumptions elsewhere that the AKP will inevitably have to draw the card of the “ambush” elections in light of internal and external developments. It is particularly whispered that problems that might occur in the solution process of the Kurdish issue could oblige the government to take an “ambush” election decision.

The AKP wing excludes both scenarios and says they do not believe either has any possibility of occuring. They especially reject the possibility of an ambush election in the fall, but say it is only “difficult” for the three election merger in 2014, if not “impossible”…

A ‘consensus package’ instead?

We have come to the end of the Constitution Conciliation Commission’s work. The stances of the leaders are important, but after this point it is an extremely weak possibility that a new Constitution will be written from scratch with the signatures of the four parties underneath. Despite this, there has been a new activity going on recently Instead of forming a Constitution from scratch, the aim is to prepare a “Constitution Consensus Package.” The formula goes as such: There are nearly 60 clauses regarding fundamental rights and freedoms that the four parties have agreed upon. If the presidential system is not included, than 20 more clauses can be added to it. In this case, a constitutional amendment package of about 80 clauses bearing the signature of four parties can be approved.

New laws indexed to withdrawal

Executives of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) are discussing the resolution process with Abdullah Öcalan on İmralı island prison, and with top names in the Kandil Mountains. According to rumors, several options including “delaying the withdrawal” are being debated. They are uncomfortable with the government not taking any steps. On the other hand, the government is acting slowly, saying: “The withdrawal has not happened completely.”
I asked an influential Cabinet minister, “When is the package arriving?” I received the answer that more time was needed. I have the impression that Erdoğan will announce content in the next stage, but will leave the submitting of the wide package to Parliament until after the complete PKK withdrawal.