Good Party's Akşener unveils election manifesto: Countdown to elections

Good Party unveils election manifesto, vows return to parliamentary system

Turkish nationalist right-wing opposition Good (İYİ) Party leader Meral Akşener on Wednesday announced her party’s election manifesto with the presidential hopeful vowing to return Turkey to the parliamentary system through a new constitution following June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections, secular Cumhuriyet daily reported.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is looking to retain his seat in next month’s polls, which will usher in a new presidential system narrowly approved in last years referendum that grants increased powers to the president.

The 61-year-old presidential candidate also promised to lift Turkey’s state of emergency, which was implemented following the June 15, 2016 coup attempt and extended seven times.

Akşener, who said she would be writing a new constitution that will pave way for the return to a strengthened parliamentary system, also promised to lower the election threshold - which is the highest of any country in the world - from 10 percent to 5 percent.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s popularity took a hit in May as more Turks disapproved of his performance than approved, according to a survey by Ankara-based polling company Metropoll.

Voters who approved of Erdoğan’s performance as president shrank 3.4 percentage points to 46.3 percent, while the proportion who disapproved grew to 47.8 percent, an increase of 3.7 percentage points, Metropoll said in a posting on Twitter.

Erdoğan, seeking re-election in snap polls on June 24, and his ruling party have been stimulating the economy while grappling with double-digit inflation and a slump in the lira against the dollar. The lira hit a record low of 4.92 per dollar in May, forcing the central bank to raise interest rates in an emergency meeting.

The last time more Turks disapproved of Erdoğan’s work as president than approved was in June 2016, just prior to a failed military coup. His popularity surged in the weeks after the coup, reaching 67.6 percent, but has hovered around or just below 50 percent since, Metropoll data showed.

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Turkish minister says pro-Kurdish candidate belongs in jail

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Tuesday that Selahattin Demirtaş, the jailed pro-Kurdish opposition candidate in June 24 presidential elections, fitted the perfect profile of a prison inmate, independent news site t24 reported.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) candidate Demirtaş has been held in detention for 18 months, facing a string of terrorism-related charges. The government says the HDP, which came third in the last general elections in 2015, is linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been fighting for Kurdish autonomy within Turkey since 1984.

“If not that person who caused the death of 53 people with one order, then who is to be placed behind bars? Can someone explain this to me?” Soylu asked, in an apparent reference to Demirtaş’s call for protests in October of 2014 against what many Kurds saw as Turkish support for Islamic State militants attacking the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani. A total of 53 protesters were killed in clashes with the police.


No one wants to be surveyed anymore - Turkish pollster: 

The owner of a Turkish polling company said his canvassers were having trouble getting responses to his polls in the run-up to June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections.

Murat Gezici, the head of the Gezici polling company, told Fatih Altaylı, a columnist in the pro-government Habertürk newspaper, that under normal conditions his canvassers needed to knock on an average of 40 to 45 doors to elicit 18 responses.

Before the last election in 2015, he said, they needed to knock on between 70 and 80 doors to get 18 responses.

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Will Turkey’s June 24 elections be cancelled?

Abdulkadir Selvi, a columnist known for his “insider” reporting on Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), made waves on Wednesday by suggesting that June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections could be cancelled.

On Thursday, the Constitutional Court will consider an opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) application to cancel new electoral laws passed by the government as unconstitutional.

The new laws, introduced in March, include the introduction of party parliamentary alliances – which the CHP is not objecting to – and a series of measures altering ballot box security that the CHP argues will make elections easier to fix.

If the Constitutional Court agrees with the CHP’s logic and cancels the changes to the electoral law at this stage, Selvi wrote, the elections could be cancelled.

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Turkey’s Erdoğan files criminal complaint against opposition candidate

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has filed a criminal complaint against Muharrem İnce, the main opposition candidate in June 24 presidential elections, for comments connecting the president to Fethullah Gülen, the U.S.-based preacher accused of ordering the failed 2016 military coup, the secular Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

The Gülen movement was once a strong ally of Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which came to power in 2002. But after years in which the AKP ran government and Gülen followers used senior positions in the judiciary to target their secular mutual rivals, the Islamist factions fell into rivalry that culminated in late 2013 when Gülenist judges targeted a number of ministers and their relatives with corruption charges.

Erdoğan’s criminal complaint follows a statement by İnce on Monday, in which he accused the president of having visited Gülen in 2001 in order to receive the preacher’s blessing before founding the AKP.

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