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Turkey's election board proposes 1 November for early elections

Early elections are expected to be announced once a 23 August deadline for forming a coalition government passes
Turkish President Erdogan arrives for a meeting with Indonesian officials at a hotel in Jakarta (File: AFP)

Turkey’s higher election board on Thursday proposed 1 November as a possible date for early elections, after efforts to form a coalition government following inconclusive 7 June polls have so far failed, according to the state-run Anatolia news agency.

The proposal, which will be presented to political parties before a final decision is made, comes three days ahead of a 23 August deadline to form a new government.

The Higher Election Board, or YSK, will determine an exact date for elections after the parties give their opinions, Anatolia said. 

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its overall majority in the Turkish parliament in the June election for the first time since it came to power in 2002, forcing it to seek a coalition partner.

On Tuesday Prime Minister Ahmed Dautoglu told President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he had failed to form a coalition government following talks with opposition parties.

Erdogan, who founded the AKP in 2001, told reporters on Wednesday that a return to the polls was becoming inevitable, in a unique electoral situation for modern Turkey.

“We are once again swiftly heading towards an election,” he said in a televised speech from the capital Ankara. He added that the only solution to the current political impasse was turning to the “will of the nation”.

Under the constitution, now that the largest party – AKP – has failed to form a government, President Erdogan should offer the second largest party – the Republican People’s Party (CHP) – the chance to negotiate a coalition administration.

But Erdogan has hinted he will not allow this to happen, just days ahead of a 23 August deadline for a new government to be formed.

“I have no time to lose with those who do not know the address of Bestepe,” he said in reference to where his new palace is located,

CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu has previously said he will not step foot in Erdogan’s lavish Bestepe palace, which the CHP has described as “illegal”.

'Election government'

If the Turkish parliament approves new elections then the constitution states the AKP will be permitted to rule as a minority government until the vote takes place. The election, if ratified, must take place within 90 days of being announced, meaning that if they are declared on 23 August then 22 November will be the deadline for a vote to be held.

If President Erdogan invokes his right to call the election himself an interim “election government” will be in charge until the polls – to be made up of all four parties in the parliament. But the CHP and third-placed Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have announced that they will not take part in a short-term government.

The AKP may view early elections as a route to winning back a parliamentary majority, however, analysts have warned that this is not guaranteed.

“It is risky because the AKP might see a further vote loss,” said Ziya Meral, a London-based Turkey analyst and director of think thank the Centre on Religion and Global Affairs.

“And even if it does not see a vote drop from June results, increasing HDP and MHP votes would mean less MPs,” he told AFP.

The Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in June passed for the first time a 10 percent vote threshold to enter the parliament and the head of a Turkish polling agency said on Tuesday that they may replace the MHP as the country’s third largest party if early elections take place.

Ozer Sencar, head of the Ankara-based MetroPOLL, told CNN Turk that preliminary results of a poll suggest support for the HDP has risen since the June vote.

He said that Turkish Kurds – who make up between 17 and 18 of the country’s 75 million people – have turned away from the AKP because the party has abandoned the peace process and resumed hostilities with the Kurdish Peoples’ Party (PKK).

Kurds who previously supported AKP, who initiated a peace process with the PKK in 2012, are turning to the HDP instead, according to Sencar.

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