Turkey's political parties eye electoral alliance

Turkey's political parties eye electoral alliance

The ruling AK Party and opposition MHP announce their ‘public alliance’ ahead of the 2019 presidential polls

By Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu

ANKARA (AA) - Ahead of the 2019 presidential elections, Turkish political parties are seeking to form electoral alliance.

The first alliance named "public alliance" has been formed between the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party and opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

On Feb. 18, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and MHP leader Devlet Bahceli met to finalize the draft bill on electoral alliance. The bill enables political parties to back another party and to make electoral alliances.

The AK Party and the MHP are trying to consolidate the bloc, which supported the constitutional change in April 2017 referendum.

Grand Unity Party (BBP), which backed the constitutional change in the referendum, announced to support the “public alliance”.

The Felicity (Saadet) Party, which is the political heritage of Turkey's former premier Necmettin Erbakan, has abstained to participate in the public alliance. However, the AK Party and the Felicity Party are still holding electoral alliance talks.

Speaking to journalist in the parliament on Wednesday, Semih Yalcin, the MHP's deputy chairman, gave green light to the participation of BBP and Felicity Party in the “public alliance”.

The AK Party took 49.49 percent of the total votes, MHP took 11.90 percent and BBP took 0.54 percent of votes in November 2015 elections.

- Meetings for alliance

In an interview with Turkish NTV on Wednesday, Hayati Yazaci, the AK Party's deputy chairman, said the doors of the "public alliance" is opened for the Felicity Party.

Yazici said the talks between the political parties on the alliance were still continuing. "Excluding the Felicity Party is out of question," said Yazici.

On Jan. 8, Bahceli announced that his party would support President and AK Party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the 2019 presidential poll rather than field a candidate of its own.

Ahead of a constitutional referendum last April, both the AK Party and MHP campaigned for the sweeping package of changes.

In the referendum, Turkish voters approved a package of constitutional changes handing wide-ranging executive powers to the president and also allowing the president to retain ties to a political party.

The MHP has also worked with the AK Party on foreign policy issues, particularly since the July 2016 defeated coup orchestrated by the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), which martyred 250 people and injured some 2,200 others.

Next year's presidential elections will be Turkey's first under the new presidential system of government.

- March 2019 election

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) tries to consolidate the bloc, which opposed the constitutional change in the last year referendum.

Last week, the CHP representatives met the representatives of the political parties which do not have parliamentary group.

The CHP made opposition to some of the articles of the new draft bill, which was recently debated in the constitutional committee of the parliament.

One of the articles, which the CHP opposes, said the election board may set up portable ballot boxes for patients, provided that they submit their medical reports in advance. However, they will not be able to vote in mukhtar elections (village heads).

The opposition party is also against the article which says the unsealed envelopes, which was officially printed by the Supreme Election Board, will be counted as valid.

Turkey will hold local elections in March, 2019. However, it is not clear whether the parties will form alliance for the local elections.

The draft bill on the presidential elections does not include any regulations for the local elections.

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