Smell of democracy


Whiff of early election continues to pervade Turkish corridors of power

Despite Justice and Development Party (AK Party) protestations that there will be no early elections, not a day passes in the corridors of power without the whiff of an early election and cabinet reshuffle in the air. Last week, Iyi Party (Good Party) Chairwoman Meral Aksener predicted an early election while in Tatvan, Bitlis, to launch her national tour. “I expect an early election on July 15, 2018,” she said. While those in AK Party corridors sidestep repeatedly voiced suspicions that the government will call early presidential and parliamentary elections, the possibility of early local elections in October 2018 hang in the air and remain the focus of debate. Indeed, it is not too difficult for the local elections, due in March 2019, to be brought forward through an amendment to the Constitution if the opposition parties agree on a consensus.

On the other hand, the rumors on bringing forward the presidential and parliamentary general elections, due to be held in November 2019, to sometime in 2018, also create expectations of a cabinet reshuffle. This is because the Cabinet will be expected to carry the AK Party to the next election and so will be reviewed, with ministers lacking effectiveness likely to be replaced. Meanwhile, another reason for bringing the expectation of a Cabinet change onto the agenda is the election of the parliamentary speaker scheduled for Nov. 20. It is stated that if Ismail Kahraman, who has been in the role for the past two years, is not a candidate and no one is nominated for the role, a revision to the Cabinet may be required in the process of finding someone suitable to fill the seat.

New parl amentary speaker expected

As Kahraman’s two-year period is about to expire, there will be elections for the role as well as for those in Cabinet and the group deputy chair. Plenty of names are eager to take the hot seat, with AK Party Istanbul deputy Burhan Kuzu among them. He had already visited Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli to gain support, but as of last week had not received any signal from his own party.

While Kahraman is likely to leave his seat, among the most frequently discussed names to succeed him is Bekir Bozdag, a government spokesman and deputy prime minister. Others talked about behind closed doors are Hayati Yazici, Mustafa Elitas and Nabi Avci. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who will have the final say on the identity of the parliamentary speaker, will decide after examining the pulse of feeling among MPs. In the meantime, it is being suggested that a headscarved woman could take on the role of parliamentary deputy chair for the first time. Because of the numerical superiority of the AK Party in Parliament, the parliamentary speaker will almost certainly be elected from the governing party. However, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and MHP will also fight to get their own candidates elected.

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