Turkey to hold second parliamentary poll on November 1
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
Turkey is heading towards a new election amid escalating violence between Turkey’s security forces and Kurdish rebels, and as Turkey is taking a more active role in the US-led campaign against Islamic State.
President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during televised remarks on August 21 that the second legislative election will be held on November 1 this year and so the Turks will be back to the ballot box once again, after the poll produced a hung parliament and parties failed to agree on a coalition in an initial round.
The election board had proposed the date November 1, according the state-run Anadolu news agency. The official 45-day mandate to form a government ends on Sunday, after which the date for the fresh election can be made formal. It is meant to be set by the election commission.
Erdoğan’s Justice and Development party (AKP) lost its overall majority in the June election for the first time since it came to power in 2002. Coalition talks saw wide divides between the AKP and the other three parties in parliament, in part over the role Erdogan would play in governance. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, now the leader of the AKP, already announced this week he was giving up trying to form a coalition with a junior partner. Davutoğlu formally told Erdoğan this week that he had failed to form a coalition government. Erdoğan told reporters he had no intention of giving Turkey’s opposition leader the mandate to try and form a government.
The snap elections come just months after the last poll in June, which saw the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which Erdogan helped found, fail to achieve a majority in parliament for the first time since it swept to power in 2002. AKP has been facing discontentment among sections of population fueled by the essentially anti-Islamic opposition on account of policies like part destruction and Erdogan’s fight with his one time ally Golan.
However, Erdogan was directly elected as president last year. He has since taken on powers not wielded by his predecessor as head of state and has called for this de facto situation to be recognized through constitutional changes.
In the campaign before the last election, Erdogan had urged voters to back the AKP so it could enact legal amendments and empower the presidency, but this bid failed.
Erdogan is expected to meet the speaker of parliament on 24 August to prepare for the next stages, including the formation of a temporary government to carry the country over until the election. This government could contain members of all parties in parliament, should they be willing.
The June election also saw the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) enter parliament for the first time. Last month, the ceasefire between the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the state broke down, putting pressure both on the ruling party and the pro-Kurdish civilian movement.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey will hold a snap election with an interim government to be formed in the meantime, if necessary with members from outside parliament,. The president will ask Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu early next week to form the temporary power-sharing government, senior officials said, after weeks of efforts to agree a coalition with opposition parties before a 23 August deadline failed.
Erdoğan said he would form an interim government that will lead Turkey until the election, and could appoint figures who currently don’t hold seats in parliament. Turkish law requires that the interim government include members of all four parties represented in parliament, but two opposition parties have already said they would not participate.
Erdoğan appears to be betting that a new ballot could revive the fortunes of his Islamic-rooted party which he founded and led for more than a decade, and thus put him back on course to reshape Turkey’s democracy into a system in which the president would have executive powers. A coalition government would also have limited his ability to influence the government.
Dozens of people have been killed in renewed clashes between Turkey’s military and rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ party, or PKK. Last month, Turkish jets raided Isis targets in Syria and PKK targets in Iraq while US jets also launched their first air strikes against Isis targets from a Turkish air base near Syria.
Opponents have accused Erdoğan of attacking the PKK in a bid to win nationalists’ support and discredit a pro-Kurdish party, whose gains in the June elections deprived the ruling party of its majority. “God willing, on November 1st, Turkey will go through what I like to call repeat elections,” said Erdogan.