Kick-off for elections

Kick-off for elections

UWI’s editorial note: Türkiye has entered the process of electing a new president and parliament. Therefore, we will concentrate our weekly review of main political events on incidents connected to the elections.

UWI will inform about main developments, describe leading politicians, analyse the competitor’s political programs and provide background analysis on Türkiye’s elections, which have global importance.

  • Joint statement by the opposition
  • Erdoğan’s statements on the earthquake
  • Constitutional Court’s decision on the People’s Democratic Party (HDP)

Türkiye had another ‘heated week’.

Finally, the date for the elections was announced as May 14th.

Opposition parties announced their presidential candidate with a 12-article declaration.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan revealed the details of the presidential campaigns.

The Constitutional Court’s decision on state treasury funding for the HDP sparked controversy.

The opposition nominates its presidential candidate

After much internal debate and ebb and flow, the opposition bloc of six parties -the Republican People’s Party (CHP) the Good Party, the Felicity Party, the Democrat Party, the Future Party and the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA)- finally announced that CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as their joint candidate for the presidential elections.

A few days before this announcement Meral Akşener, leader of the second largest opposition party, the Good Party, had left the Table of Six and made a harsh statement accusing other parties of the Table.

Akşener’s objection to the candidacy of Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu -instead she proposed one of Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu and Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş as a candidate- was overcome with the commitment that the two mayors would serve as Kılıçdaroğlu’s deputies in the event he is elected president.

The Table of Six issued the following statement of 12 articles on the joint candidate and the agreed points between the parties:

The first comment from the AK Party on Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy came from the deputy chairman of the AK Party Group Bülent Turan. Sharing on his social account, Turan said:

“Congratulations on Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy. The best judge is the nation. However, the announcement of the CHP candidate, who has never been in government except for the single party and coup periods, at the Felicity Party Headquarters, which is supposedly the representative of the National Vision Movement, is a historical shame for the Felicity Party. Whatever the result of the elections, this will persist as a point of disgrace in their history.”

Another evaluation came from Doğu Perinçek, the leader of the Vatan Party. Doğu Perinçek made a remarkable claim about Akşener and Kılıçdaroğlu:

“The US has intervened in the crisis in the Table of Six. The Secret Headquarters in Ankara has taken a decision. Just like in the Ergenekon-Balyoz case, a Secret Headquarters was formed in Ankara to plan and guide the plots. There are foreign operational officers and Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) remnants in the Headquarters. The headquarters is plotting turmoil in Türkiye, including football stadiums. Kılıçdaroğlu and Akşener have been communicating with the Headquarters from places that are not bugged, without informing their own party cadres.”

President Erdoğan kicks off the election campaign

After the opposition announced Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as the candidate, President Erdoğan also launched the election campaign.

Erdoğan signed a decree to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on May 14, earlier than the scheduled date. Emphasizing that it was imperative to leave the election process behind as soon as possible in order to deal with the consequences of the earthquake disaster, Erdoğan said they would run a campaign without using music.

Erdoğan made the following statements after formally setting the election date:

“After the publication of this decree in tomorrow’s official gazette, the Supreme Election Council will launch a two-month election calendar. According to this, our nation will – god willing – go to the polls on May 14, 2023, the first Sunday following two months, for the presidential and parliamentary elections (…) We know that a date that corresponds to a meaningful anniversary in terms of our democratic past is well received.”

Erdoğan said that the discussions on elections have left their place to the earthquakes that shook Türkiye’s southern regions on Feb. 6, which affected directly 14 million citizens living across 11 provinces and was felt in the wider area and claimed the lives of more than 47,000 people and over 115,000 were injured.

“Since the first moment of the disaster, we, as the state and the nation, have stood by our earthquake victims with all our power and means. We continue constructing permanent houses every day,” said the President and pledged to “complete 319,000 houses, consisting of 244,000 residences and 75,000 village houses, within a year and immediately hand them over to their owners.”

Erdogan also announced that the electoral alliance (People’s Alliance) that AK Party formed with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) would not be using any music as part of the elections campaign process due to the earthquake disaster. Erdoğan said “We will continue this campaign through face-to-face meetings with our citizens. What have we done and what will we do? We will endeavor to explain all these to our citizens.”

Constitutional Court’s decision on the People’s Democratic Party (HDP)

As Türkiye is heading towards elections, another heated topic was the Constitutional Court’s annulment of the decision to restore state funding for HDP.

The Constitutional Court removed the temporary suspension of state funding for the HDP, which is a party of ongoing lawsuit for the closure because of links to the PKK terror organization.

Thanks to the Court’s decision voted by a majority the HDP will receive 539 million liras in funds for parties.

Bekir Şahin, the prosecutor of the closure case and chief public prosecutor of the court of cassation, demanded to block the party’s accounts in January on grounds of the party having ‘organic ties’ to the PKK terror organization and using the funds in line with the aims of the group.

The Constitutional Court’s decision was met with many harsh criticisms. The strongest statements on the issue came from Doğu Perinçek, the leader of the Vatan Party, and Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party.

Perinçek stated:

“We are making this statement to the public not only with the sole responsibility of being the Chairman of the Vatan Party. For 55 years, my book on the regime of banning political parties in Türkiye has been the reference for the decisions of the Constitutional Court and the indictments and opinions of the Chief Prosecutor’s Office of the Court of Cassation. We hereby inform the public with the responsibility of a public law specialist.”

“The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Court of Cassation, with the indictment of the closure case, has proved with solid evidence that the HDP has become a center of activities against the territorial and national integrity of the Republic of Türkiye. Despite this judicial evidence, the Court’s delay in ruling on the HDP Closure Case is not based on legal grounds.”

“The HDP is, as all facts and evidence show, the political branch of the PKK separatist terror organization (…) “The duty and responsibility of the Constitutional Court are not and cannot be to keep the PKK terror organization alive! (…) The Constitutional Court is now responsible for 540 million liras in aid to the PKK separatist terror organization PKK.

(…) 540 million liras to be given to the HDP will return as bullets to the Turkish soldiers, as mines on our roads, and as improvised explosive devices to our people. The Constitutional Court can never be the judiciary of betrayal of the Republic of Türkiye, the Turkish nation and the Turkish Army!”

Perinçek also pointed out that the Constitutional Court is afraid of the US in taking the decision:

“The Constitutional Court cannot decide to close the HDP because it is afraid of the US. Turkish judges are not afraid, but the Constitutional Court is afraid of the US.”

Another statement came from Devlet Bahçeli, the Chairman of MHP. Bahçeli deemed the Constitutional Court “the backyard of the separatist terrorist organization”:

“They listened to the voice of betrayal, not the voice of conscience (…) If the HDP aims to field its own presidential candidate, the president of the Constitutional Court (Zühtü Arslan) has the qualities they are looking for.”

“(…) “The foundation and trial principles of the Constitutional Court should be radically changed, and its devastating existing structure, which offers olive branches to traitors, should be completely eliminated. The current Constitutional Court is not the court of the Turkish nation.”

Bahçeli also stated that the People’s Alliance would change the constitution after the elections in order to “eliminate traitors in the Constitutional Court.”

The Good Party, which has a nationalist roots, welcomed the decision. The Good Party Deputy Chairman Bahadır Erdem said:

I consider the Constitutional Court’s decision on HDP positive. It is obvious that the Constitutional Court will not make a decision before the elections. AK Party has talks with Imrali (Uwidata’s note: refers to the island where PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan is in prison). The AK Party cannot make a political decision to close the HDP.”

Ali Babacan, the leader of the DEVA Party, made a statement of support for the HDP too:

“We have already declared that, in principle, we are against closure of parties. Closing a party at a time close to the elections would have been seen as a political operation. Closing a party at a time close to the elections would have been seen as a political operation. Our jurists friends welcomed the decision.”

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April 2024