Erdogan sends Turkey to snap polls on June 24

Erdogan sends Turkey to snap polls on June 24

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday called snap elections in Turkey for June 24, bringing the polls forward by over a year-and-a-half to sharply accelerate the transition to a new presidential system.
Erdogan’s announcement upended the political timetable in Turkey, which had been set to vote in simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections on November 3, 2019.
The elections are especially significant as afterwards a new executive presidency — agreed in a 2017 referendum and denounced by critics as giving the president authoritarian powers — will come into force.
Analysts said Erdogan was looking to profit at the ballot box from surging nationalist sentiment as Turkey presses an operation in Syria, before possibly tougher economic times set in.
The new timetable means that Turkey will also vote in the polls under the state of emergency imposed since the July 15, 2016 failed coup aimed at ousting Erdogan. Parliament on Wednesday approved the emergency staying in place for another three months.
– ‘Overcome the uncertainties’ –
On Tuesday, Erdogan’s ally the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) chief Devlet Bahceli stunned Turkish political observers by urging the government not to wait for November 2019 and to call snap polls.
“As a result of consultations with Mr Bahceli, we decided to hold elections on June 24, 2018, a Sunday,” said Erdogan at his palace after meeting Bahceli.
Erdogan’s Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) has established a formal alliance with the MHP to fight the elections, in the hope of sweeping up conservative votes.
Erdogan had repeatedly insisted there will be no early elections but had in the last weeks crisscrossed the country with campaign-style speeches, fuelling speculation of snap polls.
The president said the authorities would have preferred to “grit our teeth” and wait until November 2019 but argued the situation in neighbouring Iraq and Syria “made it essential for Turkey to overcome the uncertainties ahead as soon as possible”.
Turkey is pursuing a cross-border operation inside neighbouring Syria, which has been wracked by a seven-year civil war, and earlier this year took the Kurdish militia-held Syrian town of Afrin.
Erdogan said he wanted to hasten the move to a new presidential system agreed in the April 16, 2017 referendum which will see the office of prime minister eradicated and a new vertical power structure established under the presidency.
“The malaise of the old system can be seen in every step we take,” he said.
A bill on the early elections has been submitted to parliament which should rubber-stamp it next week.

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