Turkey’s election board denies memo on İYİ Party’s ineligibility to run in snap elections

Meral Akşener

The Supreme Board of Elections (YSK) on Friday denied the authenticity of a document that claimed the opposition İYİ Party would not be able to enter snap elections scheduled for June 24.

“A memorandum supposedly signed by YSK’s Sadi Güven regarding the İYİ Party’s registration in the elections has been circulating on social media platforms,” the YSK said in an online statement. “No statements have been released regarding [this issue] by our board to the Justice Ministry,” the statement added.

The board spoke out as Turkey prepares for snap elections to be held on June 24, following President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s announcement on April 18. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in a surprise move agreed to hold parliamentary and presidential elections 17 months before the scheduled date.

The statement on the snap vote was made by Erdoğan on April 18 after a brief meeting with his ultra-nationalist ally, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli, who first proposed early elections in August 2018 the previous day.

As discussions on whether the İYİ Party will be able to register as a party running in the elections, party leader Meral Akşener on April 18 vowed to compete in Turkey’s early presidential election and to collect the 100,000 signatures necessary to be a candidate.

“I know Turkey is tired of tension,” Akşener said after the announcement of snap elections. She stressed that the İYİ Party convened its first congress on Dec. 10, after which it formed provincial and district party organizations. “Since then our party has been ready to go in elections. The İYİ Party will run in the election and will win,” Akşener said, adding that the government and the MHP called for early elections because they are “afraid.”

She emphasized that the İYİ Party convened its congress on time as the election law requires holding a congress for a new party six months in advance in order to be able to run in the next election.

Doubts linger because the party finalized its district congress on Feb. 26, and it is still not clear whether the YSK will take this date into account to calculate the necessary six-month period.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Parliament on Friday approved a bill on holding early elections on June 24, with 386 votes in favor. Lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) protested the vote by walking out of parliament, while the remaining deputies all supported the motion.

The presidential election and general elections will be held on the same day. All political parties planning to create alliances will have to notify the YSK at least seven days in advance after the electoral schedule starts. It reportedly takes the YSK 60 days to fully prepare for elections.

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