Turkey’s Higher Board of Elections (YSK) has sent a letter to the Justice Ministry saying that the recently established İYİ Party cannot participate in upcoming snap elections, claiming that their archival research had led them to the decision.
“Considering Political Parties Law No. 2298, clause 36, it has been judged inappropriate for the İYİ Party, established on October 25, 2017, to take part in the planned general and presidential elections on June 24, 2018,” the letter said.
The party has nonetheless pledged to obtain the necessary 100,000 signatures to put its leader, Meral Akşener, on the ballot of the presidential election as an independent candidate.
The YSK had issued a statement saying that it would determine which parties were eligible to participate in the elections, but its decisions can be challenged in Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the İYİ Party has denied the authenticity of the letter apparently sent by the YSK to the Justice Ministry. Aytun Çıray tweeted the image, which had appeared on a number of news websites, with the caption “The document is fake.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called snap elections for June 24, moving the date up from November 2019 after a Wednesday meeting with his ultra-nationalist ally Devlet Bahçeli, leader of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
The two met a day after Bahçeli made a call to hold presidential and parliamentary elections earlier than the scheduled date, saying, “It has become too difficult to get to Nov. 3, 2019 with stability and equilibrium under the current circumstances, with Turkey suffocated by discussions about the administrative system.”
Addressing reporters during a news conference at the presidential complex, Erdoğan said recent developments in Turkey, including cross-border operations in Iraq and Syria and crises in neighboring countries have made it necessary for the country to overcome uncertainty.
“We are immediately launching the legal process [to hold early elections], and Turkey’s Supreme Election Board [YSK] will also start preparations for the elections as soon as possible,” Erdoğan said in a speech broadcast live on television.
“Even though the president and government are working in unison, the diseases of the old system confront us at every turn,” Erdogan said. He noted there was a necessity to immediately switch to a presidential system and that the issue had been discussed in detail among officials. “We have reached consensus among our colleagues to welcome the snap election proposal,” Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Mahir Ünal has said public support for Erdoğan’s presidential candidacy is at around 55 percent, according to a survey. Speaking at a news conference at AKP headquarters in Ankara on Thursday, Ünal said, “Our president currently has 55,6 percent of the vote according to the latest survey.” Ünal also said the campaign for the elections would begin around May 15 and that big election rallies were planned.
Last year, Erdoğan narrowly won a referendum to amend the constitution and create an executive presidency, which will come into effect with the next presidential election. A total of 51,4 percent of the nation voted in favor of the reform.
In the meantime, another government official, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ, told the Anatolia news agency on Thursday that his party was confident Erdoğan would win the presidency in the first round of polls by securing at least 50 percent plus one vote.
“Early polls will positively affect the economy. There will be no need for run-off elections. The result of the [presidential] election is now certain after the reaction of the markets,” Bozdağ said, adding that Erdoğan is the presidential candidate of the AKP and the MHP.