Turkey to hold second parliamentary poll on November 1
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, former Ottoman Empire, is trying to strengthen his powers to face opposition to Islamist form of governance. 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 Gulen.
2013 Gezi Park protests against the perceived authoritarianism of Erdoğan and his policies, starting from a small sit-in in Istanbul in defense of a city park which led to nation wide protests broke out in 2013 against the growing authoritarianism of Erdoğan’s government. An internationally criticised crackdown on protestors by the police and AKP youth members led to 22 deaths, resulting in Gülen withdrawing support from the AKP and EU ascension talks stalling. A US$100 billion government corruption scandal in 2013 led to the arrests of Erdoğan’s close allies, with Erdoğan himself incriminated after a recording was released on social media. Blaming the scandal on a ‘coup attempt’ by a ‘parallel structure’ formed of his ally turned foe Gülen’s supporters in high judicial offices, Erdoğan implemented large-scale reforms to the police and judicial systems that were criticised for placing the judiciary’s independence in doubt
However, Erdogan was soon in 2014.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.
The Turkish War of Independence (1919–22), initiated by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his colleagues in Anatolia, resulted in the establishment of the modern Republic of Turkey in 1923, with Ataturk as its first president
Turkey is a nation straddling Eastern Europe and western Asia with cultural connections to ancient Greek, Persian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Cosmopolitan Istanbul, on the Bosphorus Strait, is home to the iconic Hagia Sophia, with its soaring dome and Christian mosaics, the massive 17th-century Blue Mosque and the circa-1460 Topkapı Palace, former home of sultans. Ankara is Turkey’s modern capital.
Turkey is a transcontinental Eurasian country. Asian Turkey, which includes 97 percent of the country, is separated from European Turkey by the Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles
Turkey is a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic with a diverse cultural heritage. The country’s official language is Turkish, a Turkic language spoken natively by approximately 85 percent of the population. 70–80 percent of the population are ethnic Turks; the remainder consists of legally recognized (Armenians, Greeks and Jews) and unrecognized (Kurds, Circassians, Arabs, Albanians, Bosniaks, Georgians, etc.) minorities. The vast majority of the population is Muslim. Turkey is a member of the UN, NATO, OECD, OSCE, OIC and the G-20; became an associate member of the EEC in 1963, joined the EU Customs Union in 1995 and started full membership negotiations with the European Union in 2005. Turkey’s growing economy and diplomatic initiatives have led to its recognition as a regional power.
Turkey has gradually opened up its markets through economic reforms by reducing government controls on foreign trade and investment and the privatization of publicly owned industries, and the liberalization of many sectors to private and foreign participation has continued amid political debate. The public debt to GDP ratio peaked at 75.9 percent during the recession of 2001, falling to an estimated 26.9 percent by 2013.
The real GDP growth rate from 2002 to 2007 averaged 6.8 percent annually, which made Turkey one of the fastest growing economies in the world during that period. However, growth slowed to 1 percent in 2008, and in 2009 the Turkish economy was affected by the global financial crisis, with a recession of 5 percent. The economy was estimated to have returned to 8 percent growth in 2010. According to Eurostat data, Turkish GDP per capita adjusted by purchasing power standard stood at 52 percent of the EU average in 2011.
Since the economic crisis of 2001 and the reforms initiated by the finance minister of the time, Kemal Derviş, inflation has fallen to single-digit numbers, investor confidence and foreign investment have soared, and unemployment has fallen. In the early years of the 21st century, the chronically high inflation and the unemployment rate were brought under control.
2.5 percent of the population are international migrants. As of February 2015 Turkey is the biggest refugee hosting country in the world, and hosts 1.7 million Syrian refugees.
Under the AK Party government, Turkey’s influence has grown in the formerly Ottoman territories of the Middle East and the Balkans, based on the “strategic depth” doctrine (a terminology that was coined by Ahmet Davutoğlu for defining Turkey’s increased engagement in regional foreign policy issues), also called Neo-Ottomanism.
Under the AK Party government, Turkey’s influence has grown in the formerly Ottoman territories of the Middle East and the Balkans, based on the “strategic depth” doctrine (a terminology that was coined by Ahmet Davutoğlu for defining Turkey’s increased engagement in regional foreign policy issues), also called Neo-Ottomanism. Following the Arab Spring in December 2010 and the choices made by the AK Party for supporting certain political opposition groups in the affected countries, this policy has led to tensions with some Arab states
Following the Arab Spring in December 2010 and the choices made by the AK Party for supporting certain political opposition groups in the affected countries, this policy has led to tensions with some Arab states, such as Turkey’s neighbour Syria since the start of the Syrian civil war, and with Egypt after the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi. As of 2014, Turkey doesn’t have an ambassador in Syria, Egypt and Israel (diplomatic relations with the latter country were severed after its bombing raids on the Gaza Strip.) This has left Turkey with few allies in the East Mediterranean (where rich natural gas fields have recently been discovered), and is in sharp contrast with the original goals that were set by the Foreign Minister (currently Prime Minister) Ahmet Davutoğlu in his “zero problems with neighbours” foreign policy doctrine
In line with its traditional Western orientation, relations with Europe have always been a central part of Turkish foreign policy. The other defining aspect of Turkey’s foreign policy was the country’s long-standing strategic alliance with the United States. The common threat posed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War led to Turkey’s membership of NATO in 1952, ensuring close bilateral relations with Washington. The independence of the Turkic states of the Soviet Union in 1991, with which Turkey shares a common cultural and linguistic heritage, allowed Turkey to extend its economic and political relations deep into Central Asia, thus enabling the completion of a multi-billion-dollar oil and natural gas pipeline from Baku in Azerbaijan to the port of Ceyhan in Turkey.