Turkish PM admits failure, starts poll bargaining

Turkish PM admits failure, starts poll bargaining

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish PM admits failure, starts poll bargaining

‘If we put our signature to something, we should stand behind this signature until death,’ PM Erdoğan says of the failure of a bill passage on snap polls.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan yesterday admitted his party’s failure to meet the required 367 votes needed for a two-thirds majority on the adoption of a constitutional amendment to hold early local elections, and signaled for talks to start between his party and the opposition parties for setting a new date.

President Abdullah Gül, meanwhile, said yesterday that he saw no point in a referendum, and it was for this reason that he sent the related amendment to Parliament on Oct. 16 for a second debate. Only 360 deputies voted in favor of the amendment to hold elections on Oct. 27, 2013, so if Gül had approved it would have had to go to a referendum.

Recalling that the amendment had been adopted seven votes short of the required 367 votes needed for the two-thirds majority that would not have required a referendum, Erdoğan yesterday referred to speculation as to the why the draft had fallen short of the required votes. Speculation basically focuses on the possibility of either AKP or MHP deputies’ giving a “no” vote to the amendment, as the figure 360 was eight short of the total combined number of deputies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) who were present at the assembly during the voting on Oct. 12.

It’s up to parliament: Gül
Noting that he would not blame “fellows from MHP” for the failure, Erdoğan nonetheless voiced his disappointment, as the leaders of both parties had put their signatures to the proposal.

“But I have to say this openly. The wills of both mine and [MHP leader Devlet] Bahçeli exist. We put our signatures on [the proposal], but it seems that both parties couldn’t claim these signatures. The signature and the secret voting are different [from each other]. If everybody had to claim his signature, the result would not be like this ... If we put our signature to something, we should stand behind this signature until our death,” Erdoğan told an expanded meeting of the provincial chairs of his party. “Of course, it is a sad picture, but I don’t want it to lead to any discord.”

Earlier in the day, President Gül said he had acted the way the nation expected him to by sending the amendment back to Parliament.

“It is now up to Parliament and to the political parties as to whether to insist on the original date or to set a new one. It is up to them. However, I sent [the bill] back because I came to the conclusion that there was no reason to send the nation to the polls for a constitutional amendment that had no significant content,” Gül said.

AKP executives finalized their discussions concerning the new situation after Gül vetoed the amendment on Oct. 16.

AKP, CHP to meet

Meanwhile, Erdoğan said meetings had begun between the government and the opposition to find a way through the impasse. “As of today, my friends in charge will hold meetings with the main opposition [CHP] and the MHP. Steps will be taken at Parliament following these meetings. We are not thinking of a referendum, I’ve been saying this very openly here today,” he said.

The first contact on the issue has been made between the AKP’s Nurettin Canikli and Mustafa Elitaş and the MHP’s Mehmet Şandır. Şandır said the AKP had not come up with a brand new proposal, adding that the MHP supported the idea of holding elections on Oct. 27, 2013.

AKP and CHP executives are set to meet today to discuss the issue. “Let them come and let’s meet. We will look at the possibilities and assess them,” the CHP’s spokesperson Haluk Koç said, declining to elaborate further on their position.

Göksel Bozkurt contributed to this report from the Ankara Bureau.