Jun 13 2018

​​​​​​​Constitutional Court rules against freeing Demirtaş

Constitutional Court rules against freeing Demirtaş

Turkey’s highest court has ruled that Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chair and presidential candidate of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), will not be released to participate in the Jun. 24 presidential elections.

The Constitutional Court made the ruling on Wednesday, turning down Demirtaş’s application to be released from Edirne Prison, where he has been held pending trial on terror charges since Nov. 2016.

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‘Erdoğan can win the elections in the first round and keep majority in parliament’ - Bloomberg

A recent poll commissioned by Bloomberg shows that Turkey’s upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections could go either way with a surprise victory for the opposition or President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan winning the presidential vote in the first round both being on the table, says Bloomberg bureau chief in Turkey Benjamin Harvey.

Erdoğan is looking to retain his seat as Turkey heads to the polls on June 24 for presidential and parliamentary elections which will usher in a new executive presidential system that grants the elected president vastly increased powers.

While any array of options are possible on June 24, and the only certainty is that it will be very close race, the article states, citing a survey by Foresight Danismanlik of 500 people conducted between June 7-11.

‘’Erdogan and his AK party can’t win alone, and in previous elections they got the support of religious conservatives, free-market liberals or Kurds to govern. Now success hinges on how voters identifying as nationalist cast their ballot, the poll found,’’ Harvey writes.

At present, the unwavering devotion to Erdoğan and his ruling AK party, who have been in power for 16 years, are the strongest factors tilting results in the favor of Turkey’s strogman.

The article points out that nationalists have been deserting the AKP.

“Erdogan always needed and will need coalitions," Harvey quotes Mert Yildiz, a former senior emerging-markets economist for Roubini Global Economics as saying. “Even if Erdogan wins both the parliament and the presidency, political uncertainty is unlikely to end."

Bloomberg’s poll reveals that Erdogan’s closest opponent for the presidency, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Muharrem İnce polled at 30.1 percent, followed by jailed pro-Kurdish pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) candidate Selahattin Demirtas at 10.5 percent and right-wing nationalist İYİ Party candidate at Meral Aksener at 8 percent, trailing most expectations.

If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote in the presidential elections, a second round of elections will be held where the top two candidates will go head to head. Erdogan’s lead would be more substantial in a possible second round run-off, the polling showed.

The parliamentary elections, however, are a bit more complicated, the article says.

Demirtas’s party also polled above the 10 percent threshold allowing its deputies to enter parliament and may take away from Erdogan a supportive legislature, the survey shows:

‘’HDP was on course to take 11.7 percent of the vote, compared with just 4.5 percent for the nationalist MHP. Deputies from MHP will enter parliament regardless because of their alliance with Erdogan’s AKP, which polled 46 percent. Ince’s CHP was on 27.5 percent for the parliamentary vote and Iyi at 9 percent. Both Erdogan and Ince are significantly more popular than their respective political parties.’’

According to Foresight, even though the Turkish president is likely to win power, the true winner of these elections will be energetic candidate Muharrem Ince.

Over 34 percent of those surveyed said the economy is Turkey’s most important problem, followed by terrorism at 17.7 percent and unemploymet at 13.5 percent.

Turkey’s lira has dropped more than 15 percent against the dollar this year amid concerns of soaring inflation, making the country's economic performance, which has traditionally been Erdoğan’s stronghold, a liability for the first time in his 15 years.

‘’A plurality of respondents -- 35.9 percent -- said their living standards had gotten worse in the past year, very few of his supporters are likely to turn on him. Only 4.6 percent of AKP voters said they’d vote for Ince,’’ the article notes.

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Opposition candidate to refuse speaking on Turkish state-owned TV

Turkey’s right-wing nationalist İYİ (Good Party) presidential candidate Meral Akşener, in an act of protest against pro-government media, will not be speaking on state-owned TRT television in the slot allotted for her as part of the air time the station has extended to all presidential candidates in the run up to the June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections, secular Cumhuriyet daily reported.

Turkey's state broadcasting watchdog (RTÜK) last month reported that not only state-owned TRT, but also private television channels have been giving disproportionate air time to certain political parties and presidential candidates ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections, favouring Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

İYİ Party applied to the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) requesing that another İYİ Party member speak on the national broadcaster in Akşener’s place; however, the application was denied, the daily said.

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Pro-Kurdish party calls on opposition to act together for 2nd round of elections

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Democratic Peoples’ Party (HDP) Sezai Temelli has called on opposition parties to act together around a joint-protocol should the country’s June 24 presidential election go into a second round, independent news site t24 reported.

Turkey heads to the polls on less than two weeks for parliamentary and presidential elections where current President Recep Erdoğan is looking to retain his seat with the new executive presidential system that will come into effect that grants the elected president vastly increased powers. If none of the presidential candidates reach 50 percent of the votes in the first round of the presidential elections, then the two candidates who receive the highest number of votes will go onto the second round.  Should this happen, the second round will be held on July 8.

‘’There is need for a protocol and there’s no need to lose ourselves in details. It’s either Erdoğan or democracy,’’ Temelli said.

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