Turkish parties ready for probable early election

Political parties have started political campaigns in consideration of the possibility of early elections

Turkish parties ready for probable early election

If the Constitutional Court closes down the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and imposes a political ban on at least 26 of the 38 deputies cited in a lawsuit filed by the chief prosecutor, an early election will become inevitable in the fall.Under current laws, local elections currently scheduled to take place on March 29, 2009 will be held simultaneously with the early elections.

Political parties have started political campaigns in consideration of the possibility of early elections. Although not even one year has passed since general elections were held on July 22, 2007, Turkey is discussing the possibility of holding early general elections. Despite the AK Party frequently noting that it considers early elections a last resort, they may become inevitable.

The court's decision to annul constitutional amendments designed to lift a long-standing ban on wearing headscarves at universities has changed the expectations of AK Party legal experts on the pending closure case. The experts expect the court to deliver a similar ruling on the closure case, and even the most optimistic AK Party members, considering these developments, note that it is very unlikely the Constitutional Court will not close down the party.

The legal experts anticipate a verdict by mid-July because the court takes a recess between July 31 and Sept. 1. If a decision is not made by July, it will be postponed to September or October.

AK Party officials expect the court to act quickly and make a decision and even continue reviewing the file during the recess. In a statement issued on March 14, 2007, Constitutional Court Chairman Haşim Kılıç noted that the judges may continue reviewing the case during the break, if necessary. Under Article 78 of the Constitution, early elections have to be held if 5 percent (28 deputies) of parliamentary seats (550 seats total) have been vacated. Currently, Parliament has 548 deputies, meaning interim elections have to be held if 26 deputies are removed from office by the Constitutional Court. Under the said article, elections have to be held on the first Sunday after 90 days elapse following the loss of 5 pct of deputies.

The process will be initiated not only by the AK Party closure case but also by a similar case filed against the Democratic Society Party (DTP). In the DTP case, the prosecutor is asking for a political ban on 10 deputies. A verdict for this case is expected sometime in the summer.

Speaking to Today's Zaman, AK Party parliamentary group leader Nihat Ergün, who notes that his party is avoiding discussing early elections, says: "We would like to move on. The game will be over if no resolution is found to this latest crisis. In such a case, the only way to begin anew is through elections. Hopefully Turkey will not be taken to this point."

If the court decides to close down the AK Party, the decision will also concern local elections. Under Article 127 of the Constitution, local elections will have to be held simultaneously with general elections if holding local and general elections is essential. The said article provides for local elections to be held one year before or after if they can be combined with early general elections.

However, the Higher Election Board's decision on elections is also important because it holds the authority to determine the election date. Its decision is vital because it is the official body that governs and runs elections, meaning it will have the final word on whether the said elections will be held simultaneously.

Today's Zaman

Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Haziran 2008, 12:11