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Does Turkey go to early elections?

The talks about early elections in Turkey are hardly retreating until they return to the forefront of the media and political agenda in the country, especially on the lips of the opposition parties at last, while the ruling Justice and Development Party and its nationalist movement ally still assert that there is nothing to impose early elections and then they will be on time. The year is 2023.

Layout and exception

The Justice and Development Party came to rule Turkey after a period of economic crises, political stalemate and the collapse of coalition governments, and therefore one of its most important priorities was achieving political stability as a condition for economic development, which it had.

The party was keen to hold the election elections on time, to confirm the idea of ​​stability on the one hand, and to avoid the negative effects of early elections on the country’s economy, in light of the ambiguity surrounding it.

Therefore, the ruling party conducted the vast majority of the elections on time, which became one of its principles of governance, while there were exceptions imposed by exceptional circumstances. In 2007, following the presidential election crisis that led to a state of political blockage and severe tension that moved to the streets, the Justice and Development called for early parliamentary elections that changed the composition of the parliament and the crisis was overcome and the president of the republic, Abdullah Gul, was elected at the time.

The constitutional amendments that accompanied the approval of the presidential system made it difficult for elections to be held early. It is only possible if the president or 60% of the members of parliament called for it, that is, 360 deputies, and in both cases, presidential and parliamentary elections will be simultaneous.

In 2018, after the transition to the presidential system was approved, the leader of the nationalist movement, Devlet Bahçeli, called for early presidential and parliamentary elections to get out of the uncertainty that the country was experiencing and to “legalize” the state of the presidential system that was “effectively” in effect after Erdogan was elected president in 2014 and the popular referendum. On the presidential system in 2017, he said.

After the municipal elections in 2019, in which justice and development were relatively low and the municipalities of Ankara and Istanbul lost, the Turkish opposition, led by its largest party, the Republican People, adopted a narrative that the popularity of President Erdogan and his ruling party is in a severe decline in addition to other contexts such as the economic crisis, which leads to the necessity Returning to the opinion of the people and thus early elections.

Factors and conditions

The constitutional amendments that accompanied the approval of the presidential system made it difficult for elections to be held early. It is only possible if the president or 60% of the members of parliament called for it, i.e. 360 deputies, and in both cases it will be simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections, and this means a relative loss for the president and parliament alike, as this will be deducted from the period in which he is entitled to remain president, The parliamentarians who will not be re-elected will lose their seats in the remaining period as well.

Therefore, according to the current circumstances, it is neither expected nor expected that the president will call early elections. He will not want to be deducted from the period he is entitled to as president today (until 2023) and in the event he is reelected (until 2028), and he does not want to hold elections in light of the new Corona virus pandemic and its negative consequences on the economy, rather he wants to postpone it as much as possible until the economic conditions improve Especially since some of its indicators are improving recently after the changes in some positions related to the financial file.

The president’s desire to avoid the scenario of early elections appears to be protected by his alliance with the national movement, which includes approximately 340 deputies in parliament, while the opposition coalition does not exceed its maximum, in addition to the representatives of democratic peoples (not formally joined by the alliance) and some 260 independents, which This means that the early elections will necessarily require a radical change in the country in some context, in terms of the unity of the Justice and Development and / or its alliance with the national movement and / or developments that contribute to changing the president’s opinion.

Erdogan is also aware that the popularity of his party has declined relatively recently, and that it is for the first time in front of parties that came out of his cloak and headed by former leaders in his party, which pushes him to the priority of arranging his internal home before heading to any electoral merit, so we find him speeding up his party conferences at the provincial level and from The party is supposed to hold its general conference soon.

In addition to all of the above, the current parliament still has the task of enacting a new law for parties and another for elections and related matters such as alliances and the electoral threshold. The constitution stipulates that elections should not take place before at least one year has passed since any amendment related to them, and this means that early elections in 2021 are completely excluded at the earliest.

Vertical probability

So, from the above, the ruling coalition does not have the desire nor the opposition has the ability to go to early presidential and parliamentary elections, especially very soon, in 2021 for example, but some Turkish politicians and media professionals prefer to distinguish between “early elections”, which means a decision. On the verge of early elections and “premature elections,” that is, slightly earlier than the date of 2023.

Here, most evaluations exclude the first option, while some prefer the second option. Meaning that only a small percentage of observers and analysts expect the announcement of early presidential and parliamentary elections soon, and a good percentage believes that the country’s conditions may not enable it to withstand until November 2023, the date of the periodic elections. What are the factors that may drive this?

First There is the economy, as any additional and strong economic crisis can contribute to early elections in search of a solution to it, especially as it may lead to many social and political dynamics, but in the absence of any new crisis and if the government is able to improve economic indicators, this is highly unlikely.

And secondly There is the alliance between the Justice and Development and the national movement, which seems to be coherent until the moment in light of the remarkable eagerness on both sides to continue with what secures Erdogan a majority in the parliament, refusing to early. However, it is undeniable that Bahceli’s history fluctuates between political positions, as well as his illness and his advanced age. The likelihood of turmoil in or after an alliance with him, although this is currently small.

And thirdly There is a relentless pursuit by the two main alliances in the country to influence each other with the aim of weakening and dispersing, as the ruling “public” coalition focuses on the relationship of the Republican people with democratic peoples (linked in turn to the Kurdish workers) to influence the “good party” with nationalist tendencies, and seeks to attract Happiness party on his side. In contrast, the opposition “Umma” coalition and newly formed parties focus on Bahçeli and the nationalist movement to influence the solidity of his alliance with Erdogan.

And fourth There are the new parties, specifically the “Future” and “Progress and Democracy” parties led by Davutoglu and Babacan respectively, which do not pose until now a real threat to justice and development, but if they were able to attract a number of the current Justice and Development MPs – which is also a weak possibility – they would lose Contribute to adjusting the balances in Parliament. On the other hand, Erdogan may personally go to the decision of early elections to block these small parties if he feels that their chances – and opportunities for the opposition in general – in 2023 will be better, in a scenario similar to the idea of ​​early parliamentary elections in 2018 in an attempt to block the path of the good party. Dissent of the national movement.

In conclusion, and given the current data and legal requirements, the Turkish opposition, especially the CHP, is showing an urgent desire to hold early elections soon, as an investment of several recent developments, but today it is unable to impose it. This is confirmed by the recent cracks in the CHP, whose membership 3 members of Parliament have resigned, and it is expected that its leader and its former candidate for the presidential elections, Muharram Enga, will establish a political party that will certainly affect its unity and strength in one degree or another.

On the other hand, statements by Erdogan and Bahçeli, the leaders of the ruling coalition, confirm time and time again that this option is not currently on the table and that the elections will be held on time. Indeed, Bahçeli warned days ago that “the attempt to impose early elections on Turkey aims to drag it into chaos.”

Accordingly, the scenario of early elections ahead of their date in November 2023 depends on the occurrence of major developments in the country that may change the conviction of the ruling coalition, especially Erdogan, or affect the strength of the existing alliance between the Justice and Development and the national movement, or the map of parties and the balance of alliances under the dome. Parliament, until the moment there are no real indications of any of them.

Therefore, unless enough events take place to activate one of these three tracks, the presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey will take place on the date in the fall of 2023, and if there is an early occurrence, it will be partial and marginal, in the sense of the early months, perhaps not necessarily years.

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