MHP, AKP want early elections if charter draft fails in parliament

MHP, AKP want early elections if charter draft fails in parliament

MHP, AKP want early elections if charter draft fails in parliament

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An opposition leader and a senior ruling party figure have said early elections will be required as a last resort if charter changes currently being debated in parliament are not passed by the legislature.

“If [the constitutional amendment proposal are not passed in parliament], the legislature will be unable to work and grounds for parliament to work will be sought, meaning the will of the public will be solicited,” Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, who initiated the process leading to the submission of contentious constitutional amendments to parliament, told reporters in parliament on Jan. 11 as lawmakers continued to discuss articles of the draft.

Parliamentary constitutional commission head Mustafa Şentop from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) reiterated Bahçeli’s comments, saying that if the draft was not approved by parliament, the country would face an election. 

“If the text is not passed by the General Assembly, then let’s say that nobody wants an election but that Turkey would be obliged to go to an election,” Şentop told state-run Anadolu Agency on Jan. 12, noting that Turkey could expect such an election in either the spring or the summer.

“These conditions and the circumstances that Turkey is in – when all of them are taken into consideration, the consequence of [the charter] not being passed would necessarily lead Turkey to an election. It would be in spring or fall, but it would be held. Nobody can prevent an election,” he added.

Bahçeli said he anticipated that lawmakers would approve the remaining articles of the 18-article amendment package. Five articles have already been approved for inclusion in the final vote in the second stage in parliament after receiving more than the required 330 votes. 

“Apparently the process will continue like this. The ‘yay’ and ‘nay’ numbers have a certain degree of stability,” Bahçeli said, referring to the latest two sessions which gathered 341 and 343 votes, respectively. 

“When we look at the numbers here, the defections are quite insignificant. We are proceeding with 330 to 340 votes which will result in a referendum. It seems that the constitutional amendment will be accepted in parliament, paving the way for a referendum. I do not expect sudden ups and downs. There is no decrease; there is an increase,” he added. 

The charter amendments will usher in a powerful executive presidency, something that Bahçeli initially opposed vigorously before suddenly changing tack to support the ruling AKP on the issue.