Main opposition offers to merge two polls

Main opposition offers to merge two polls

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Main opposition offers to merge two polls

Turkey is set to face at least two elections next year. A referendum on the new Constitution may be added to the scheduled presidental and local elections. DHA photo

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has voiced support for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s suggestion of holding three elections next year, lending game-changing support to the idea.

“Let’s go to local elections and general elections on March 30 [2014]. Let’s not waste this country’s money. If Mr. Prime Minister is so eager for a referendum, we will have two elections at the same time, two elections that will qualify as a referendum,” CHP deputy chair Gürsel Tekin said at a press conference on May 22.

Tekin also noted that after holding two elections at the same time, the remaining presidential election could be held as scheduled.

A senior executive of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), nonetheless, downplayed Tekin’s challenge, calling the proposal insincere.

The AKP has not had a decision to merge the two elections, Ahmet Aydın, a deputy parliamentary group chair of the party, told the Daily News. “What the CHP has said should not be taken too seriously, because tomorrow they might say just the opposite of what they say today. In the past, we proposed holding early local elections, but the CHP didn’t accept. They escaped from the election and the people. Now they come out and say ‘Let’s hold two elections together,’” Aydın said: “We don’t find the CHP’s proposals reasonable and sensible.”

In remarks delivered during a visit to the U.S. and published in newspapers May 19, Erdoğan voiced readiness to bring his party’s own draft Constitution to a people’s vote in the absence of a consensus in Turkey’s much-anticipated parliamentary work to write a new Constitution.

Local elections will be held in March 2014 and presidential elections in August 2014. Parliamentary elections will be held in June 2015. In October 2012, a constitutional amendment introduced by the government to hold local elections on Oct. 27, 2013, fell seven votes shy of the required 367 votes needed for the two-thirds majority that would not have required a referendum to go into force. President Abdullah Gül thus sent the amendment back to Parliament for a second debate, a situation that paved the way for bargaining between the ruling party and the opposition parties over the setting of a new date.

‘His own deputies to stop prime minister’

Tekin bitterly criticized Erdoğan for his remarks in which he suggested that an AKP charter draft could receive parliamentary approval from renegades in the opposition if the latter’s leaders “did not lock up” their lawmakers. “Will you buy [them]? Your money will not be enough to buy deputies in this country.

It will be impossible if the case is concerning the CHP. A quest to buy deputies in order to massacre democracy would be the biggest blow which could dealt to democracy. No deputy would sink to that, and I know that very responsible and reasonable deputies within the AKP will say ‘stop’ to this matter,” Tekin said.