Turkey's conditions to force ruling AKP into early elections - jailed Kurdish politician

Turkey’s economic conditions are likely to force the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to hold an early general elections ahead of the scheduled polls in 2023, jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş said.

"I don’t think the elections will wait until 2023,’’ Evrensel newspaper cited the former head of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) as saying on Saturday. "All conditions will force the government into a snap election, which would be the smartest move.’’

Demirtaş’s remarks arrive as AKP leader and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly dismissed calls by the opposition for early elections amid an economic downturn that has been compounded by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The AKP would be wise to much such a move "before, hunger, poverty and a large-scale downfall leads to social blow-out,’’ Demirtaş added. 

The Turkish economy continues to face the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and a historically low lira, driving down standards of living across the country and leading to growing calls from the opposition to expedite the polls. 

Turkey’s last general election was held in June 2018, after Erdoğan called for the polls more than a year and a half ahead of schedule, a move opponents claim advantaged the ruling AKP.

On that occasion, the AKP won just over 42 percent of the vote, but public support for the party has since slipped to 39.8 percent, according to a December 2020 poll published by one of Turkey’s leading pollster Konda.

Demirtaş also noted that he was “more hopeful’’ about the future of Turkey, Evrensel said, citing the alignment of different segments of the country in standing for supremacy of the law and democracy.

The Turkish government jailed Demirtaş in Nov. 2016, accusing him of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has waged an armed struggle for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984. The 47-year-old faces dozens of terror-related charges carrying combined sentences that could exceed 140 years.