Erdogan rules out early elections; modifies the election code to stop the newfound opposition parties

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has ruled out months-long rumors on early elections, saying that all the parties need to wait for the scheduled 2023.

“Snap polls are out of question. Why would we hold early elections? The elections will be held in 2023, they will wait. Everyone should plan accordingly,” Erdoğan told members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) during a Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK) meeting on June 8.

“Only the opposition talks about early elections. The packages we announced one after the other bothered them,” he said, referring to the financial aid packages announced amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

During the meeting, Erdoğan said that the law on political parties and elections need to be amended in line with the presidential system.

“We have formed a commission for it. They will conduct necessary works and present them to us,” he said.

The changes on the political parties law have been on the government’s agenda since main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said that a number of CHP lawmakers can quit and join the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) and Future Party, both founded by former AKP officials, to secure their run in elections. His remarks triggered a new debate, with Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli calling for “urgent” reforms in the law on political parties for the continuation of the presidential system.

The setting up of the commission comes after a recently launched debate over the laws on the political parties and elections by the AKP’s main political ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The AKP’s work is aiming to expand the scope of the MHP’s complaints about these two key laws with a special emphasis on impeding the transfer of lawmakers, complicating procedures for the new parties to enter the elections and etc.

The AKP’s commission will work through the summer to draft a drastic overhaul of both the political parties’ law and election law so that a substantial package can be brought to parliament in the fall.

Reducing the 10 percent election threshold to five percent is one of the options discussed at the ruling party with the plans of keeping the small parties, i.e. Ahmet Davutoğlu’s Future Party, Ali Babacan’s Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) or Temel Karamollaoğlu’s Felicity (Saadet) Party, off parliament although they run in the elections as part of an alliance. Increasing the number of constituencies especially in the large metropoles is also on the table.

According to Turkish law, a political party has to finalize its organization process in more than half of the cities in Turkey and hold its first convention six months before the election date.

If a political party has a group in parliament with 20 lawmakers, it will have the right to participate in the elections and present a presidential candidate. The party also becomes eligible to get financial aid from the Treasury for the elections.