While Turkey’s next general elections are scheduled for 2023, an economic slowdown stemming from the coronavirus pandemic is shifting the nation’s political dynamics and giving rise to rumors that snap elections might be called in the not-so-distant future.
Last week, Devlet Bahceli, head of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), added fire to such speculation by proposing changes to electoral laws. The measures would make it more difficult for members of parliament to join newly formed opposition parties and pose a more formidable electoral threat to Ankara’s ruling bloc known as the “People’s Alliance,” which is composed of the MHP and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Bahceli floated the idea in response to statements by Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), who said he was open to transferring some of his party’s deputies to the new DEVA and Future parties to help them reach electoral eligibility, as the CHP had done for the IYI Party ahead of the 2018 elections.
Analysts say Bahceli’s proposals, which would require constitutional amendments through a parliamentary supermajority, may be hard to achieve but signal Turkey’s political players are positioning themselves to best navigate the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and any political fallout it might bring about, including the prospect for early elections.
“Bahceli has bitter memories from the earlier CHP move to lend 15 deputies for Meral Aksener’s IYI Party to be able to form a group of at least 20 MPs in the parliament and get into the elections without the need to complete other formalities written in the law,” Murat Yetkin, editor of the Yetkin Report news site, told Al-Monitor. “Bahceli is doing this as a goodwill gesture to Erdogan as a show of his solidarity.”
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