Turkish parties in crucial stage of polls before deadline

Turkish parties in crucial stage of polls before deadline

Turkish parties in crucial stage of polls before deadline

AA Photo

As the deadline to submit their candidates in the run-up to the June 7 parliamentary elections nears, political parties in Turkey have been involved in the endeavor of fine-tuning their lists of candidates before the submission deadline.

The bell had already tolled, as a decision by Turkey’s top election body prompting many to hold their breath was published in the Official Gazette late on April 4. Accordingly, political parties will have to name their candidates for at least 41 provincial constituencies by April 7. Otherwise, they will not be able to run in the June 7 elections.

As recently as the early morning of April 5, a supreme commission of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by the party’s leader, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, and tasked with reviewing nominees for running in the election, finished a 15-hour meeting. The commission’s work is expected to continue until the last minute before the deadline, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported, without citing any sources.

Earlier on April 4, Davutoğlu spoke at a press conference held at the AKP headquarters when he said they were trying to compile a candidates list from out of 6,220 “distinguished” applications which reflected the highest representativeness.

In an apparent bid to appease nominees who will eventually be eliminated, Davutoğlu said each of those 6,220 applicants was “very precious” for them. 

“Beginning from their applications to become a nominee, they are natural members and natural representatives of our party,” he added.

Of the current 312 AKP lawmakers, 71 will not be able to stand for re-election because of an internal rule of the ruling party. The AKP introduced the three-term rule to restrict the mandate of its lawmakers to three consecutive terms in parliament. Those affected by this rule include Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek; Deputy Prime Ministers Bülent Arınç, Beşir Atalay and Ali Babacan; previous Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ; Ministers Faruk Çelik, Mehdi Eker and Taner Yıldız; and Erdoğan’s chief adviser Binali Yıldırım, among others.

The AKP will hold a public meeting either on April 14 or 15 for a collective promotion of the eventual candidates and the release of their election manifesto, Davutoğlu said.

CHP leader to name 188 candidates for party assembly approval

As the sole party to conduct primaries, the social-democratic main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has already named 362 of their candidates in 55 constituencies. It will name the rest of its 188 candidates, including 37 candidates who will have the chance to use the right to a quota, at a party assembly meeting which will kick off at 8 p.m. on the evening of April 6.

The Central Executive Board (MYK) of the party has given CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu carte blanche to name the 188 candidates. The names of those candidates selected by Kılıçdaroğlu will be submitted to the Supreme Election Board (YSK) after they are approved by the party assembly on the evening of April 6.

In total, 2,822 people have applied to become a nominee and run on the CHP ticket. 

During the primaries, party members selected fresh faces, including a considerable number of females and young individuals, at the cost of disappointing the old guards who once held power within the party. Accordingly, it is already clear new names will make up the majority of the CHP’s electoral lists.

Kılıçdaroğlu is expected to hold rallies in more than 50 provinces, with the first held in the Kartal district of Istanbul on April 11. The election declaration will be announced in Ankara on April 19.

MHP’s unique ‘tendency survey’

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli took the initiative to present various names to a tendency survey before his party assembly puts the final touches on the list to be submitted to the YSK. Accordingly, through the Internet, every citizen was able to participate in the tendency survey on a provincial basis using their ID number to get a password.

By doing so, Bahçeli aimed to understand where potential candidates received a higher level of support from the electorate.

Bahçeli, who has applied to become a candidate from his hometown, Osmaniye, was not included in the tendency survey.

HDP: The kingmaker

The list of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which is challenging the 10 percent election threshold by deciding to enter the June 7 elections as a party, is the subject of curiosity not only for their grassroots but also for the supporters of other parties, as the HDP has been considered by many as a kingmaker in the coming elections.

The HDP’s predecessor, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), went into the 2011 elections with independent candidates to bypass the threshold before founding its parliamentary group, which today has 29 members.

Many observers have maintained the potential failure of the HDP to exceed the threshold, which would thus see them excluded from parliament, would at the same time strengthen President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s plan to obtain the 400 lawmakers needed to institute his much-desired “Turkish-style” presidential model in the 550-seat parliament. 

Based on calculations in line with the Turkish electoral system, the HDP’s absence from parliament would mean more seats for the ruling AKP, particularly in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish east and southeast where the HDP has strong grassroots.

Hüda-Par’s decision

The Free Cause Party (Hüda-Par), which is currently not represented in parliament, will resort to the then-BDP’s tactic and nominate independent candidates in nine provinces – Adana, Batman, Bingöl, Bitlis, Diyarbakır, Mardin, Şanlıurfa, Şırnak and Van. In most of these provinces, the HDP grassroots are strong.

There are deeply rooted feuds between the grassroots of the HDP, a considerable part of which matches with supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and Hüda-Par. There have been many clashes, even as recently as earlier this year, between PKK supporters and Hüda-Par supporters, which is a legal political extension of the outlawed Islamist Kurdish movement Hizbullah.

A handshake

As the MHP declined to enter an election coalition with the Great Union Party (BBP), the latter’s leader, Mustafa Destici, and the leader of the Felicity Party (SP), Mustafa Kamalak, publicly shook hands on April 4 for an alliance.

Making a joint press statement, the leaders of the two parties, both of which are not currently represented in parliament, however, noted theirs was a principle agreement, but not a final decision. Party organizations will make the final decision, they said.