AKP may seek early elections in bid for Erdoğan’s third presidential term - legal analyst

The Turkish government is likely to seek early elections before 2023 to allow President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to run for a third presidential term, legal analyst Emre Turkut said.

Calling early elections is the only way under the Turkish constitution that a president who has served two terms can stand for a third, Turkut, a legal scholar at Gent University said, speaking to Ahval’s John Lubbock on the Made in Turkey podcast.

Erdoğan is currently in his second term as president and the elections are slated for 2023, the year of the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic.

“The MHP and AKP will try some political avenues, for example the renewal of elections by the Turkish parliament would be such an option,’’ Turkut said. “The AKP and MHP will definitely try to use politically more viable routes to evade the term limits.”

But the government needs a three-fifth majority in parliament to call early elections or pass constitutional changes. The other option for the AKP is to seek a referendum on changes to the constitution, but this also requires a three fifth majority.

According to Turkut, it is possible for the government to get a majority if they can convince 20 deputies from opposition parties, like the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) or centre-right Good Party.

The CHP may not be unified in opposing the government’s desire for early elections, and some CHP deputies may feel that, given the current economic situation in Turkey, they could gain politically from early elections.

“The opposition’s policies are gaining traction with the public, and in that case the CHP thinks that they have a large electoral support, and this may be why they agree to early elections”, Turkut said.

Turkut concluded that the Turkish government would try to avoid the perception that they are acting undemocratically or attempting to subvert the Turkish constitution, he said.

“Much will depend on whether the AKP’s arguments in favour of early elections to give Erdoğan the longest time in office will gain any traction with the public,’’ according to Turkut. “So they will first try to popularise their interpretation of the constitution, to use more politically viable routes, given the AKP’s populist authoritarian policies, I think they would want to take it to the public.”