Erdoğan’s ultranationalist ally: Turkey could stage fresh elections if alliance loses parliament

Turkey could stage another election if the alliance between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the ultra-nationalist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) cannot win a majority in parliament in Sunday’s vote, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli has said.

Turks will vote on June 24 in presidential and parliamentary elections that will herald a switch to a powerful new executive presidency narrowly approved in a referendum last year. Polls suggest Erdoğan’s alliance could lose its parliamentary majority, while the presidential vote may also go to a second round run-off.

Bahçeli, who backed Erdoğan in the referendum, said another set of early elections could be on the agenda if the presidency and parliament struggle to work together after Sunday’s vote, according to a report by Reuters.

Speaking in an interview on private news channel NTV late on Monday, Bahçeli said the referendum granted either the president or parliament the authority to call for snap elections when there was a “blockage,” for example if Erdoğan won the presidency but his party fell short of a parliamentary majority.

“When the presidency and parliament come to the point where they can’t work in unison, there are ways out of this under the [recently passed] constitutional amendments, and they will be implemented. For example, an … early election could be considered,” he said.

Bahçeli played a pivotal role in moving Sunday’s elections forward more than a year when he called on the government to declare snap elections in April. Erdoğan set the election date for June 24 after a meeting with Bahçeli.

Under the constitutional amendments, which will go into effect following the elections, the number of lawmakers in parliament will increase to 600 from 550. Officials from the AKP, which has enjoyed a parliamentary majority until now, have said they aim to receive at least 300 seats in the assembly.

Throughout his election campaign, Erdoğan has stressed the importance of a “strong parliament,” saying the decision to support him for the presidency but not the AKP was a “disturbing attempt.”

The composition of the assembly could depend on the performance of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which has significant backing in the country’s largely Kurdish Southeast.

If the party passes a 10 percent threshold needed to enter parliament, it could win dozens of seats in the legislature. If it fails, the seats will go to the second most popular party in the region, almost certainly guaranteeing a majority for the AKP.

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