Election tension to loom over opening of parliament

Election tension to loom over opening of parliament

Nuray Babacan - ANKARA
Election tension to loom over opening of parliament

DHA photo

Turkey’s parliament will open its putative fall session on Oct. 1, but the end to the summer recess will be overshadowed by snap elections set for Nov. 1, as well as a spiral of violence between the state and outlawed militants.

Lawmakers were elected in June 7 elections, but MPs have so far only sat for 22 hours and 23 minutes since the polls. The Oct. 1 session also marks the last time that legislators will sit this term before the Nov. 1 elections.

Attendance is expected to be low because of the ongoing campaign activities of the deputies who have been nominated for Nov. 1, with all procedural activities, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s speech, estimated to last three hours. 

Erdoğan will deliver an opening speech at parliament for the second time, yet both the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) are planning to protest Erdoğan, whose speech will dominate the atmosphere of parliament. 

Due to casualties in the ongoing conflict between security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) during which more than 100 security personnel and hundreds of militants have been killed since the breakdown of a two-and-a-half-year long de facto cease-fire in July, a traditional opening reception will not be held this year.

Erdoğan is expected to focus on “national unity” with a high possibility of severe criticism of deputies of the HDP whom he accuses of siding with the PKK. Apart from touching upon regional developments in the Middle East and the Syrian refugee crisis, he is likely to underline progress made during his term in the Prime Ministry from 2003 to 2014, as well as during his presidency with the motto of the “New Turkey.”

The HDP may finalize its decision on whether or not to attend the session in a show of protest against Erdoğan on the day of the session. Some individual CHP deputies, meanwhile, are considering protests in which they may turn their back when Erdoğan delivers his speech rather than protest as the entire parliamentary group.

“You will see it when the parliament opens,” CHP Secretary-General Gürsel Tekin told reporters on Sept. 29 when asked whether deputies planned to protest.

Under normal conditions, the parliament adjourns the opening session in order to gather again on the upcoming Tuesday, which is Oct. 6. Yet, because of the Nov. 1 election, all parties will now need to give their consent to a decision by the Advisory Board of the parliament to send parliament into a recess for the election campaign. 

For its part, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), in principle, would like to see parliament remain open after the Oct. 1 session in order to have a debate on its motion to investigate a Justice and Development Party (AKP)-led, though long-stalled, resolution process aimed at ending the three-decade-long conflict between the security forces and the PKK.

However, even if it blocks a holiday session, the MHP will not be able to operate parliament on its own, so such an abstention would solely remain a political move. MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli is expected to make the final decision on the issue.