In a surprise move, Turkey’s ruling Justice & Development Party (AKP) and its ally the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) agreed to hold snap parliamentary and presidential elections on June 24, 2018, seventeen months months before the scheduled date. Erdogan cited internal and external politicla issues as well as economic matters as reason for the snap elections.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the snap elections on Wednesday after a brief meeting with his ally, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli. The latter first proposed the early election in August 2018 a day earlier, in a statement that seemed to come out of the blue – yesterday! Because today, it looks as if the two leaders had agreed already to seek the votes of the Turkish people.
“The intensification of Turkey’s internal and external agenda has obliged us to remove the uncertainties in front of us through early elections,” Erdogan told reporters.
Ongoing military operations in Syria, regional developments and macroeconomic necessities create an “urgency” for Turkey to immediately start the implementation of the executive presidential model instead of waiting for November 2019, he added.
“Even though the president and the government are working in unison, the diseases of the old system confront us at every step we take,” Erdogan said.
“We have decided to hold the elections on June 24. We, as the AK Party and MHP groups, are immediately launching necessary procedures at parliament,” he added, also underlining that the Supreme Election Board (YSK) will accelerate its work to prepare for the twin elections.
Among the key things the government still has to do before early elections is legislate final laws regulating the procedures and principles of presidential elections.
Some 55 million Turkish people will be eligible to vote for the 600-seat parliament, as well as for the president who will be able to use all the powers granted to the head of the nation through the controversial April 16, 2017 referendum that replaced the parliamentary system with an executive presidential model.
The president needs to garner at least 50 percent plus one vote to be elected in the first round. If no contenders receive a simple majority, the two top candidates will run in the second round of presidential elections two weeks after, on July 8.
Although not yet officially announced, President Erdoğan will be the joint candidate of the AKP-MHP alliance. If successful he will be able to rule until 2023 with a chance to be re-elected for a second term.
The Turkish Lira currency strengthened slightly against the dollar after the announcement of the election date, and was at around 4.00 by the afternoon. The yield on Turkey’s benchmark bond also fell some 10 basis points.
On the same day of the snap elections announcement, the Turkish Justice Ministry announced that 3,000 Army Officers are to be persecuted for links with Gulenists.
International analysts and Greece are now wondering, the first about how the war in Syria will affect Erdogan’s chances, while the latter is expecting an escalation of the nationalistic rhetoric, threats and provocations.
Erodgan’s decision comes hours after a report of EU Commission slammed Turkey over human rights and relations to EU member states. It should be noted that Ankara was aware of the report before it was published on Wednesday.
Are Turkey’s voters so naive to be manipulated by Islamist Erdogan and ultra-nationalist Bahseli with “victories” in foreign policy, when everybody knows that voters follow their pockets when it comes to elections?