Turkish ruling party may call early elections - Cumhuriyet

Some within Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) want joint parliamentary and presidential elections to be brought forward to 2018 to avoid holding them in the wake of expected symbolic losses in local elections, Cumhuriyet newspaper said.

At present, local elections – in which polls suggest the party could lose Istanbul and Ankara, two key cities that have been held by the AKP and its predecessors since 1994 – are scheduled for March 2019, while presidential and parliamentary elections are expected to take place in November 2019.

“Fears have been voiced that the loss of Istanbul and Ankara might ‘create a domino effect’ with the perception that ‘we are losing’, and that this could prepare the ground for a loss in the November 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections,” wrote Cumhuriyet’s Ankara correspondent Erdem Gül, citing sources within the party.

On the other hand, he said, a strong early win in national elections for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan could create the momentum to save the party’s precarious situation on a local level.

In a referendum in April on granting the president unprecedented new powers, both Ankara and Istanbul voted against, leading to fears the former strongholds could be slipping from AKP hands.