Erdoğan says no early elections, calls for rate cut; CHP to seek election alliances

Speaking to journalists at İstanbul Atatürk Airport early in the morning on Friday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said:

“We are not thinking of merging elections [the presidential and general].”

He said early polls would scare off investors and hurt stability.

The prime minister said the only reason his government has been able to win is because of stability and confidence in the country, despite attempts at bringing down his government. He added that the Gezi Park protests of May of last year and a corruption investigation launched by prosecutors into the government were parts of the attempt to bring the AK Party down.

The general elections will be held in June of next year, as scheduled, Prime Minister Erdoğan said.

In response to a question on whether he was planning to run for president in August, Erdoğan said he agreed with an earlier statement from President Abdullah Gül that this issue can be decided later on, after he, Gül and other senior members of his party discuss it.

He also said he was against the idea of removing an AK Party charter rule that does not allow party members to serve in Parliament for more than three terms, but said the ultimate decision about whether to remove it will be left to the party’s General Council. Prime Minister Erdoğan is in his third term in Parliament.

Turkey’s general elections are scheduled for June of next year and its presidential election — the first time the people will chose the president instead of Parliament — is in August of this year.

Many analysts have argued that holding general elections 10 months early would benefit the AK Party significantly, allowing it to capitalize on its March 30 election success and win at least 44 percent in the general elections as well. Erdoğan’s statement indicates that the government will not seek early elections this year, but it has not made clear whether Erdoğan will be running for president.

Analysts say that the most crucial point regarding the possible scenarios in August is whether or not President Gül will want to continue as president. The prime minister’s announcement that there will be no elections might mean that Erdoğan will just have to change the three-term rule, and Gül will run for president once again.

Both Gül and Erdoğan have said they will have to talk about running for president with each other and other senior members of the AK Party.

In a related development, Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Thursday said it was possible for his party to seek an alliance with other opposition parties in the presidential election.

In a statement he made to The Wall Street Journal Turkey, Kılıçdaroğlu said the current law on political parties prevents election alliances but that such an alliance could be possible in the presidential election. A statement from Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Deputy Chairman Tuğrul Türkeş on the same day noted that the MHP could perhaps welcome the idea of choosing a presidential candidate together with the CHP to run against the AK Party’s candidate.

Prime Minister Erdoğan also called on Friday for the central bank to cut interest rates, sending the lira lower. He said the economy was “in a good trend” and that political stability and lower interest rates would encourage investors.

“Yields are falling. In line with this, the central bank will probably convene an extraordinary monetary policy committee meeting,” he said, adding that it should “review” its decision to hike rates at an emergency meeting in January.

“Just like it convened extraordinarily last time to hike rates, this time it should convene and lower interest rates.”


About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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