Nergis Demirkaya / DUVARErdoğan 'ordered AKP officials to go out on the streets to listen to people's complaints'
Turkish opposition parties have said that they would be willing to hold early elections, as they commented on the months-long rumors on snap polls.
Their comments came after an "urgent" call by Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli on amending the political parties law for the continuation of the presidential system, although the main motive is to complicate new parties' efforts of running in elections.
Bahçeli's remarks were made in response to main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu's statements on the possibility of a number of CHP lawmakers quitting and joining the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) and Future Party, both founded by former government officials, to secure their run in elections.
While the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) says that the elections are set to be held in 2023, opposition parties have started to point to 2021 for snap polls after the government voiced support to Bahçeli's suggestions.
The fact that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered party officials to go out on the streets to listen to people's complaints was also interpreted as a sign of early elections.
CHP gives last year's local elections as an example
CHP officials have said that it would be irrational for the government to head to snap polls in an environment where the economy is very weak and that the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has not waned yet. However, they also pointed to the repeated Istanbul municipal elections of last year, saying that the irrational mindset that was adopted back then can be brought to life once again.MHP leader calls for reforming political parties law to ensure continuation of presidential system
They were referring to the March 31, 2019 local elections, in which CHP's candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu gained the majority of votes against AKP's Binali Yıldırım, but the elections were ruled to be repeated by the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) as a result of government pressure. İmamoğlu gained a decisive victory in the rerun elections on June 23, 2019.
Saying that a move to narrow the field of politics and to change the rules of the game for the benefit of the government would backfire in the society, CHP officials noted, "We would be content if there are early elections."
Another CHP official said that it would be more appropriate to interpret the steps of the government as an early start to its election campaigns rather than heading for early elections.
Various polls that were carried out recently showed that the AKP and its ally MHP have been losing votes. According to the CHP official, the motive behind kicking off election campaigns would be to prevent further loss of votes. The government then would go to snap polls when its votes are back on track, the official added.
İYİ Party expects elections in 2021
Right-wing İYİ (Good) Party officials also commented on the possibility of early elections, saying that it's not rational for the government to go to snap polls. However, they also pointed to the recent moves by the MHP and the AKP on changing the political parties law.Politicians exchange Eid celebrations amid tense political environment in Turkey
"I was ruling out early elections two weeks ago, but now I can't do that," said one of the officials, adding that it can be held in 2021.
According to Turkish law, a political party has to finalize its organization process in more than half of the cities in Turkey and hold its first convention six months before the election date.
If a political party has a group in parliament with 20 lawmakers, it will have the right to participate in the elections and present a presidential candidate. The party also becomes eligible to get financial aid from the Treasury for the elections.
Both the Future and DEVA parties are relatively new, with the former found in December 2019 by former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and the latter in March by former deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan. They also refrained from ruling out early elections.
DEVA prepared for changes in political parties lawTurkish opposition party leader accuses gov't of planning to rig next elections
DEVA officials said that the government's moves show that they are concerned on losing the elections, adding that they are prepared for the changes in the law on political parties.
"We saw that the limitations and blocks against rivals in the area of politics have failed to bear results in the past. They're making a mistake," one official said.
Future Party officials also expect elections to be held in 2021 since "there is a governance crisis."
"The presidential system has come to a deadlock. The economy is sick, it's far from giving confidence. They're taking steps to change the rules of the game due to being unable to change this scene," they said.