President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signaled that Türkiye may hold its critical presidential and general elections on May 14, fueling further the debate on bringing the election earlier than its scheduled date on June 18.
“Late Menderes (Adnan, former Prime Minister) came out of the ballot box with an overwhelming victory on May 14, 1950, by saying, “Enough, the word is of the nation.” “On the same day, our nation will say ‘enough’ to these coup marshals,” Erdoğan said at a parliamentary group meeting of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara on January 18.
The rumors over the AKP’s favoring early elections have been on Turkey’s political agenda since last summer.
Erdoğan has been stressing that the elections will be held on the scheduled date of July 18. However, both economic turmoil and constitutional discussions over the possibility of his presidential candidacy pushed the president to opt for early elections.
Two options for early elections
The country has two legal options for bringing the ballot box earlier than the official date.First is the parliament’s decision to renew the elections, and second is the president’s decision to annul the parliament.
The votes of 5/3 of the majority should be cast for the parliament to decide on early elections. The AKP and its People’s Alliance partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), are unable to secure a majority in parliament and must rely on opposition support.
However, the opposition alliance stated that they would favor early elections to be held before April 6 and reject any possibility of elections being held later. The reason for that was that the election law, including provisions in favor of the ruling block, was approved on April 6, 2022, with AKP-MHP votes. The law will be enacted for elections to be held after April 6 2023.
MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli had said his party would support the AKP and Erdoğan in both options, stating that “if opposition would not vote, then the president will annul the parliament.”
Can Erdoğan run again?
Another important discussion about early elections is the possibility that Erdoğan will run again for the presidency.
According to the constitution, approved in 2017 and enacted with the 2018 elections, a person can only be elected for two terms. Because Erdoğan was elected president in 2014, it is debatable whether this is his second or first term under this constitution.
According to the same constitution, if the elections are renewed by parliamentary decision, the president on their second term can run again. However it does not clearly state if it is applicable when the president annuls the parliament.
Economists argue that as Türkiye has been struggling with rising inflation and a currency crisis, Erdoğan’s temporary solutions to raise people’s living standards, such as wage rises, would not be sustainable in the long term. For this reason, Erdoğan favors early elections to be able to use these incentives as election propaganda.