Turkey starts to talk about snap local elections

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AFP PHOTO / Bulent Kilic

After holding early presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24, Turkey is now discussing another snap election at the end of the year.

Local elections were slated to be held in March 2019; however, politicians have already started to make statements about an early race.

A Birgün daily report on June 30 suggested that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been planning to move the date forward for local elections in order to ease the legislative process for adopting a new executive presidential system of governance as public attention would be focused on the elections.

But in the new system introduced in a 2017 referendum, deciding on a snap local election is not easy. There must be an amendment to the constitution, which can only be made with the approval of 400 deputies in parliament.

The AKP has 295 deputies, while its ally the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has 49. Therefore, another party must also back the idea.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP), on the other hand, is ready to support snap local elections, with its leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu offering in October 2017 to reschedule them.

“If a proposal comes, we can consider,” party’s vice chairman Seyit Torun told reporters about the issue on Monday.

CHP officials are believed to be sounding “ready” in an attempt to gain psychological superiority; however, the AKP side has remained reluctant.

Whereas the Grand Unity Party (BBP), an AKP ally in past elections, has already urged snap local elections, AKP deputies, most recently group deputy chairman Mustafa Elitaş, have remained silent.

Elitaş said the three major parties — the AKP, CHP and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) — should agree on the issue. Also Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman from the AKP said there would not be snap elections because it would be difficult to amend the constitution at the moment.

“I think holding local elections on the first or second Sunday of November, which corresponds to a date between Nov. 1 and 8, would be appropriate,” Elitaş also added, in case of a decision to go snap election has been made.

AKP officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, had repeatedly stated that there would not be snap elections before the actual snap elections were called for June 24.

According to İYİ (Good) Party official Durmuş Yılmaz, the former governor of the Turkish Central Bank, a snap local election decision could expose the problems that currently exist in economy management.

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