Turkey will not hold elections till 2021 – columnist

A snap election in Turkey is highly unlikely in 2020, but the opposition parties think presidential and parliamentary elections will take place in the second half of 2021, wrote Hürriyet daily columnist Abdülkadir Selvi on Thursday.

Selvi said both Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the secular main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), and Meral Akşener, the head of the nationalist opposition Good Party, had told him they thought the government could not make it to 2023 when the next elections are scheduled. 

A possible change in the cabinet will top the agenda this year, Selvi said, adding that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had so far resisted calls for changes in his cabinet after the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost local elections in Istanbul last year.

Another big issue will be Kanal Istanbul, an artificial waterway Erdoğan insists on building to link the Marmara and Black Seas as an alternative to the Bosporus Straits. 

Kanal Istanbul, one of Erdoğan’s mega projects, sparked a row between the president and Istanbul’s new mayor, Ekrem İmamoğlu, last month. 

The AKP's deputy chair, Mahir Ünal, accused İmamoğlu on Wednesday of acting like a president, instead of Istanbul’s mayor. 

“Istanbul’s Metropolitan Municipality mayor sees himself as the republic and the state. He sees no problem in challenging the state,” Ünal said during a television programme. “He has not talked about a single issue on Istanbul so far. When he talks, he talks about Turkey. He talks like a president,” Ünal said. 

Senior government officials have insisted Kanal Istanbul needs to be built.

“We will head to the polls during the presidential election as those who want Kanal Istanbul and those who do not,” Selvi said.