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Turkey - 24 June 2018 Election

incumbent president and head of the governing AK Party Recep Tayyip Erdogan won election with 52.7 percent of the vote. As the first popularly elected president of Turkey, he secured another 5 years in power. Erdogan was the candidate of the People's Alliance. The alliance consists of three parties: The AK Party, the MHP and the BBP. The results for the other presidential candidates: Muharrem Ince took 30.7 percent of the votes, HDP’s Selahattin Demirtas received 8.1 percent, Iyi Party’s Meral Aksener 7.4 percent, SP’s Temel Karamollaoglu 0.9 percent, and Vatan Party's Dogu Perincek got 0.2 percent of the vote.

Erdogan and his AK Party emerged victorious in Turkey's elections, the party attracted 42.5 percent of the vote in the parliamentary elections. The MHP managed 11.2 percent. With those percentages, the People's Alliance secured 342 seats in the 600-seat parliament, and gained legislative power without requiring support from other parties. AK Party itself won 42.5 percent of the votes and secured 293 seats in the parliament. The Nation’s Alliance, which includes the main opposition CHP and three small parties; Iyi Party, Saadet Party and the Demokrat Party, on the other hand, received 34,1 percent of the vote and secured 192 seats in parliament.

Turkey’s President Erdogan announced plans on 18 April 2018 to bring forward the November 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections to 24 June 2018. The president’s decision came a day after opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahceli called for early presidential and parliamentary elections. Erdogan announcement came after he met Bahceli at the presidential complex. Bahceli and Erdogan have been allied since a coup attempt in Turkey in 2016.

Turkey's main right-wing party, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), on 17 April 2018 ramped up expectations that elections could be brought forward by over a year by urging snap polls in August 2018. MHP chief Devlet Bahceli said Turkey could not wait for the scheduled date of November 3, 2019, to hold simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections and urged that the polls be held on August 26. "In this situation, it is not possible to wait until November 3, 2019," Bahceli said in a televised meeting of MHP lawmakers in Ankara. "On August 26, 2018, the Turkish nation should go to the ballot box in the spirit of marking a new victory," he added.

Bahceli, who has led the MHP since 1997, used to be an outspoken critic of Erdogan but has closely aligned with the president since a failed coup in July 2016. Three weeks after the attempted 2016 putsch, Bahceli attended a rally in support of the elected government in Istanbul with other key political leaders at the request of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Following that meeting, it was revealed that only the MHP agreed to a quick constitutional change, which the AK Party was suggesting. A meeting in Ankara between Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Bahceli on 17 October 2016 followed the rally.

On 15 November 2016, the AK Party presented the draft amendments for the constitutional change to the MHP. Later, the Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and the MHP's Mehmet Parsak began to work on the proposal, and on 29 November 2016, it became clear that the two sides had a common understanding. After holding another meeting in Ankara on December 1, Yildirim and Bahceli declared they had reached an agreement. The proposed constitution would grant more executive powers. And on 16 April 2017, with a referendum, the new constitution was approved by Turkish voters.

The MHP and AK Party went for an alliance for the next elections, and changed the country's electoral system on 15 March 2018, passing a bill that would allow political parties to form alliances in elections. There have not been any changes to the election threshold under the new system, as political parties need to secure at least 10 percent in elections to win seats in parliament.

Now, only the total votes of the alliance need to pass the threshold for the parties to claim seats in parliament, meaning parties close to the threshold can secure seats when they form alliances. With this article, political parties will have a better chance of getting into parliament once they create alliances with other parties with less votes.

On 08 January 2018, MHP leader Bahceli announced his party would support the President and AK Party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the 2019 presidential election, instead of presenting a candidate of its own. The AK Party holds 316 seats in parliament, the CHP holds 131, the MHP holds 36 and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) holds 50. Members of the HDP, including then two co-chairs, were detained over accusations of having links to the PKK. The PKK has been designated a terror group by Turkey, the US and the EU. The group has been fighting the Turkish state for more than 30 years, causing the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including civilians.

The newly established IYI (Good) Party has five MPs in parliament who defected from the MHP and the CHP. Meral Aksener, head of IYI Party, announced that she is going to run for the presidential elections.

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu also said on he hoped early elections take place in Turkey. "Even though the president and government are working in unison, the diseases of the old system confront us at every step we take," Erdogan said, referring to the current parliamentary system in place in Turkey, which will be made redundant after the next presidential election when the government will switch to an executive presidential system.

The new system of governing was approved in an April 2017 referendum on constitutional change. The articles of constitutional change were to come into effect on November 2019 with an election, it will now come into effect after snap elections on June 24. "Developments in Syria and elsewhere have made it urgent to switch to the new executive system in order to take steps for our country's future in a stronger way," Erdogan added.

"We were in favour of waiting until November 2019 for the elections. But our military operation in Syria and the historically significant regional developments in Syria and Iraq made it compulsory for Turkey to overcome the uncertainties. It’s urgent for Turkey to shift to the new system in order to make decisions and take concrete steps regarding our future."

"We discussed Mr Bahceli's call with our relevant authorities. We came to the agreement that we should approach this early election positively," he added. Erdogan said the country urgently needed to make the switch to an executive presidency.

The polls in June will give Erdogan a chance to extend his stay in power with a new five year mandate, after already serving 15 years in power as premier and then president. Erdogan has established a formal alliance with the MHP to fight the elections, making it hard for his party to dismiss Bahceli's call out of hand. MHP leader since 1997, Bahceli is seen as a kingmaker in Turkish politics. He precipitated the 2002 snap polls that brought AK Party to power. The AK Party has ruled Turkey ever since.

International rights monitor Amnesty International issued a damning report on human rights violations in Turkey on 26 April 2018, two months ahead of elections in the country. Turkey imposed a state of emergency after the attempted coup of July 2016 and has subsequently extended it seven times, most recently just hours after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a snap election for June 24. Amnesty said that the large scale detentions and persecution of human rights defenders under the state of emergency has created a “climate of fear” that has led to self-censorship.

According to Amnesty, under the state of emergency 100,000 people have faced criminal proceedings, 50,000 are in prison awaiting trial, more than 180 media outlets have been closed down, over 120 journalists and media workers have been detained, and 1,300 associations and foundations were closed.

Ankara confirmed six candidates who will stand in the presidential election on June 24, as the nation heads to the polls to elect both their new president and new members of parliament. According to the list – which can be challenged until May 11 – six candidates will run for the presidency in Turkey: Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Muharrem Ince, Meral Aksener, Selahattin Demirtas, Temel Karamollaoglu and Dogu Perincek.

Muharrem Ince, candidate of Turkey's main opposition CHP (Republican People's Party), as well as Iyi (Good) Party leader and presidential candidate Meral Aksener pose the biggest challenge to Erdogan's re-election. The Nation's Alliance is made up of the CHP, Iyi (Good) Party, Saadet (Felicity) Party and Demokrat (Democrat) Party in a bid to weaken the governing party's 16-year dominance in parliament. The parties nominated their own presidential candidates to run against Erdogan but ran as an alliance for the parliamentary election, scheduled for the same day.

The opposition HDP (People's Democratic Party) that had been kept out of the alliance announced jailed former co-leader, Selahattin Demirtas, as its presidential candidate. In November 2016, Demirtas together with 12 HDP lawmakers, was arrested on the PKK-related terror charges. Demirtas remains in custody pending trial.

Hoping to prevent incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan from being reelected, disparate opposition parties have come together in an unlikely alliance for both the parliamentary and presidential votes on June 24. That newly formed Nation Alliance backs the secularist opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) nominee, Muharrem Ince, for president. It includes secular social democrats, center-right conservatives, nationalist liberal conservatives, and conservative Islamists.

Parliamentary candidates from the Nation Alliance vowed that, if they secure majority control of the legislature, they'll roll back the constitutional amendments that were narrowly approved in a controversial 2017 referendum -- amendments coming into force after the election that will transform Turkey's parliamentary system into a presidential system of government.

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Page last modified: 24-06-2018 18:38:31 ZULU