Following the proposal of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli to change electoral law, which has led to rumors of a possible snap election, Future Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu has said that his party was ready for an early election.
Davutoğlu however warned the government not to change the agenda of the nation with such speculations of an early election if it was not serious about it.
“We, as the Future Party, are not worried about early election, whenever it is held. If your real purpose is to call an early election, bring it on, let’s go to early election. But if you are after petty concerns such as changing the nation’s real agenda with [rumors] of coup or early election, then stop wasting our nation’s energy with such cheap manipulations,” Davutoğlu said in a video posted on his social media account on May 18.
Last week, Bahçeli, a staunch ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), called for making changes in the election law and parliamentary bylaws. Bahçeli’s comments came after the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said a number of CHP lawmakers can quit and join the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) and Future Party to secure their run in elections.
Bahçeli did not specify what kind of swift changes he sought for the electoral law, but sources told Gazete Duvar that preventing deputies from switching parties and increasing the number of deputies needed to found a parliamentary group from 20 to 30 can be the amendments in question. Such measures would it make more difficult for CHP deputies to join the newly formed opposition parties, which are said to have great potential in terms of attracting the votes of the AKP-MHP bloc.
Experts have been indicating that in the wake of the oppositiong gaining strenth and the upcoming financial crisis stemming from the coronavirus epidemic, the AKP might resort to holding early elections, which are normally scheduled for 2023.
Davutoğlu, who was once Erdogan’s closest ally, said that the silence of the AKP in the face of Bahçeli’s proposal points out that an early election “might be also on the agenda of the government.” “Bahçeli again is charting out the course for the ruling party,” Davutoğlu said.
Davutoğlu said that although Bahçeli did not give details as to what kind of changes he envisaged to the present law, the Future Party will stand against any changes which makes the electoral law more anti-democratic than it currently is.
“Do whatever you want; set a trap for us through the electoral law. You cannot pull a trick on people, who can see through your tricks. Although you are controlling all the media outlets, people see through your tricks, and as these tricks become more visible, your sayings lose their value. The same tricks were played on you at the time. They had banned Erdoğan, put him prison, but then what happened? He came all the way to the position of presidency with the votes of people,” Davutoğlu said, referring to the 10-month jail term given to Erdoğan in 1998 for “inciting hatred” after reciting a poem that compared mosques to barracks.
“And now Erdoğan is trying to eliminate his opponents with the same tricks. As their predecessors failed to succeed, Erdoğan and Bahçeli will also not be successful. People will have the final say,” Davutoğlu said.
Davutoğlu slams gov’t for replacing HDP mayors with trustees
Davutoğlu also criticized the government for removing the elected mayors from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority provinces and replacing them with trustees.
“This ruling government is occupied with seizing the municipalities one by one, which were won by millions of people’s votes. Those who think they can manage the local authorities by unseating the elected mayors with trustee appointments have either not lived in this country for long years or have not really taken a lesson at all from what happened in the past,” Davutoğlu said.
“The fact that Erdoğan cannot comprehend this, although he lost the mayorship position with the Feb. 28 trap, shows how blind they have become. The Future Party in a very open way stands against this open unlawfulness [against the HDP],” Davutoğlu said, referring to the “post-modern” coup of Feb. 28, 1997, which had forced the government of Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan to resign on the grounds that there was a rising religious fundamentalism in the country.
Erdogan was a member of Erbakan’s Welfare Party at the time of the government’s ouster and the Welfare Party is considered a predecessor of Erdoğan’s current AKP.