Is the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) preparing for an early election? Had it not been for Hürriyet newspaper’s pro-government columnist Abdülkadir Selvi’s insight from AKP rooms, I would have thought that the rumor was circulated to spark speculation move in the stock market. However, after notorious mafia figure Sedat Peker publicized yet another allegation of bribery and money laundering scandal involving an AKP lawmaker, and Presidential consultant, Hürriyet deleted all the articles of Burak Taşçı, one of the stock market writers. But when Selvi wrote it I asked “does the AKP want to go to the elections within these conditions?” because I suspected a political operation.
Selvi also added an if sentence: “if the parliament is summoned before its scheduled opening date on October 1”.
Let’s briefly mark the following information first: the foreign investors started to focus on what Turkey’s foreign policy preferences will be after the elections, rather than whether Turkey will hold an early election in the autumn. The question is too important to explore in one paragraph so it necessitates another article to elaborate on. I get back to the question of an early election. First, we have to understand the reason behind this inclination within the halls of the ruling party, members of which have been reiterating their position that “the election will be on its scheduled date in 2023”, and “early election is out of the question.”
Seven reasons from AKP deputies
What made AKP lawmakers restless was the “surprise Central Executive Board Meeting” that took place last week. For many AKP lawmakers, President Tayyip Erdoğan’s decision to hold early elections would mean an early farewell to the lucrative parliamentary seat. The reasons the deputies listed to Selvi at the backstages of AKP almost imply asking for “not going to the elections”.
1- “The 6 opposition parties’ alliance meetings have not brought a presidential candidate yet; nor could they achieve to be a center of attention by proposing solutions for current problems of Turkey.”
2- “There might be a crack at the table of six when they come up with a candidate.”
I think this is the AKP’s serious concern. Their plan to build a strategy according to the candidate of the opposition started to fail already. We can deduce from Erdoğan’s recent interest in the Alevi community that they started to form their strategy by considering the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as the candidate of the table of six.
3- “Although the economy is the most important agenda item, its devastating effects began to diminish.”
It looks more like wishful thinking than a statement to say that the devastating effect of the economy is starting to evade. Maybe AKP deputies are saying “bring it on” in order to face the public during the election campaign as little as possible.
Early election? Good news for the opposition
4- “The mid-term increases in the minimum wage, the increase above the inflation rate for the wages of civil servants and retirees, the updated prices of agricultural products changed the political climate.”
It seems that Erdoğan sees the exit from the economic crisis first by increasing the money supply and creating a delusion with monetization in the eyes of people whose purchasing power has been declining. Secondly, he expects a cash flow from Russia and Arab countries. In this case, putting hope in the monetization seems like a wish saying “it cannot be done again, so we should go to the elections immediately before people forgets.” But it would be good news for the opposition if the AKP deputies fell into complacency that the political climate was in their favour.
5- “AKP votes have started to rise again in the last two months. Voters could not find what they expected from the opposition. They started to return to the AKP again.”
The recent polls indeed suggest that the loss in AKP votes has stopped. The reason for this is not the voters’ inability to find what they wished for from the opposition. It’s like the reason behind this is Erdoğan’s rhetoric that indicates “you will be finished if I go.” But it would also be good news for the opposition if the AKP deputies wanted to believe it.
Gets more difficult as the Ukraine war drags on
6- “President Erdoğan became the address of the solution in international crises, especially in the grain corridor.”
What percentage of the electorate do the AKP deputies think will vote for Erdogan because he opened a grain corridor to Ukraine?
7- “While the political climate has turned positive, it may be logical to go to the elections without waiting for June, since it is unknown what the harsh winter months and the Russian-Ukrainian war will bring”
This seems to be the real concern of AKP members. In the summer days, the AKP’s policymakers had been calculating the crisis to end in the middle of summer. The fallacy of this argument became more evident at Erdoğan’s last meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Aug. 5 in Russia’s Sochi. The prolongation of the war means the prolongation of the economic crisis.
Do they not trust that the crisis will end?
What needs to be underlined here is that pro-AKP columnist Selvi found the possibility of holding the elections before its scheduled date in June 2023 reasonable by listing these 7 reasons that AKP deputies voiced.
The longer the Ukrainian war goes on, the longer the crisis will be. As the crisis drags on, are the AKP deputies who told Selvi these reasons lost their faith and confidence in President Erdoğan’s promise that the crisis will end in February and March?
There is also speculation on the election date. Erdoğan and his ruling partner Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli initiated an amendment in election law in April to lower the election threshold to 7 percent from 10 percent. Since the new law cannot be stipulated in elections to be held within one year of its legislation in the parliament, the elections should be held after April 6, 2023, for the 7 percent threshold to be in effect. If Erdoğan Bahçeli wanted to go to an election with a 10 percent threshold, why would they introduce such an amendment in the first place?
That’s why I wrote in the first paragraph that if it was not Selvi who wrote this, I would have suspected it was a stock market speculation.