Opposition’s victory in 2023 elections would drag Turkey into chaos, Erdoğan says

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has claimed that the victory of the opposition parties against his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the 2023 elections would “drag Turkey into chaos,” local media reported on Wednesday.

Speaking at his party’s parliamentary group meeting on Wednesday, the president accused the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) of pursuing a strategy of ending the rule of the AKP, which came to power in 2002, by “dragging the country into disaster.”

“Those directing the CHP, who have on its side a supposedly nationalist and country-loving party and a party controlled by a separatist organization … are playing a game seemingly profitable for themselves but equally harmful for our country,” Erdoğan added, referring to the CHP’s ally, the nationalist İYİ (Good) Party, and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), respectively.

“If they succeed, Turkey will not only lose what it has won over the past 19 years but also be dragged into perpetual chaos,” the president argued.

When he was asked to comment on a recent discussion on the necessity of changing the requirement to garner 50 percent of the vote plus one additional vote for election to the position of president, known locally as the “50+1” rule, Erdoğan pointed to the Turkish Parliament as the place for such debate.

“The parliament is the decision maker on such issues, especially regarding constitutional amendments. … We’ll see whether it makes a new decision on this [50+1 rule],” he said.

The rule was part of the executive presidential system that replaced Turkey’s parliamentary system of governance in a referendum in 2017. Erdoğan received around 52 percent of the vote in the 2018 election, thanks to the support of his ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

The discussions on the 50+1 election rule started after Temel Karamollaoğlu, leader of the opposition Felicity Party (SP), recently said after a meeting with Erdoğan that the president had said he found the rule to be “disadvantageous.”

Following the revelation of Erdoğan’s stance, both Presidential High Advisory Board member Cemil Çiçek and AKP lawmaker İbrahim Aydemir expressed the opinion that the rule should be changed.

However, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli on Tuesday said the rule was “the axis of the presidential system of governance” and that discussing changing it was “unnecessary,” in a statement that raised eyebrows since the AKP and MHP were expected to be on the same page as election allies.

Amid rumors of cracks within the Public Alliance, which includes the ruling AKP and its ally, the parties’ leaders on Wednesday held a 45-minute meeting at Erdoğan’s presidential palace in Ankara. Neither Bahçeli nor Erdoğan made any statement regarding the meeting after it ended, according to local media reports.

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