President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey will hold early presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24 this summer, after his party positively responded to the proposal by nationalist opposition leader.
The president met with Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahceli on Wednesday to discuss his surprise proposal to hold early presidential and parliamentary elections on Aug. 26, this summer, not in 2019 as they are scheduled to take place.
The MHP leader’s suggestion generated a great deal of political debate amid signs of economic distress, a tumbling lira against the dollar and a decline in electoral prospects of both his party and Erdogan’s.
In its initial reaction, the AKP said it would consider the offer and would make an announcement today. There was no press conference after the Erdogan-Bahceli meeting and the presidential office told media that a statement would be released soon.
Erdogan cited ongoing operations in Syria and Iraq, and the need for urgent implementation of the executive presidential system as reasons for an early election. Moving elections ahead of its planned time generated controversy over a newly established opposition party, IYI (Good) Party, for technical procedure limitations that would bar the party from entering June 24 elections.
A senior IYI Party official recently confirmed that his party would only take part elections by June 28. However, IYI Party leader Meral Aksener ended the ambiguity on Wednesday.
“Our party completed its technical structuring at least in 68 provinces. And when we consider the time frame after the formation of the party, I can say that our party will be eligible for taking part in an election by June 10,” she said.
Aksener also announced her candidacy for the presidential election on June 24.
According to Turkish electoral law, for a party to become eligible to take part in an election, at least six months must pass since the first party congress after its founding.
Aksener says it was Dec. 10 when the party held its first congress. But adding to the confusion, the party spokesman takes Dec. 28 when the party held its congress.
Yet, IYI Party held another congress on April 1. The lack of clarity would give political ammunition to the AKP government to bar the IYI party from entering elections.
“Preparations for the elections have been completed. Even I don’t know whether the IYI Party would enter the June 24 elections,” Supreme Election Board (YSK) Head Sadi Guven told media. “Its case will be examined.”
In an initial reaction to the snap election, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) said they welcome the change and would later announce the party candidate.
“We are always ready. Turkey’s problems can only be solved by the nation’s will,” said Deputy CHP Chairman Bulent Tezcan said on Tuesday after Bahceli’s proposal.