UPDATE - Turkey's political parties discuss electoral alliance

UPDATE - Turkey's political parties discuss electoral alliance

Ruling AK Party, opposition MHP members meet in parliament

UPDATE WITH REMARKS OF PARTIES' REPRESENTATIVES

By Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu

ANKARA (AA) - Turkey's two major political parties’ representatives on Thursday met to discuss a possible electoral alliance for the next presidential elections.

The ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) discussed prospects of the electoral alliance in the parliament.

Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul, Parliament's Constitution Committee head Mustafa Sentop and AK Party's spokesman Mahir Unal represented the government, while the MHP was represented by Deputy Secretary General Mustafa Kalayci, lawmaker from Afyonkarahisar city Mehmet Parsak, and another parliamentarian from Istanbul Ismail Faruk Aksu.

Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Sentop said they had formed a "national consensus commission" on the alliance.

Sentop said that they would finally change the election law after the commission meetings.

"The commission will make an amendment to restructure the state in line with the constitution for a new government system," he said.

MHP deputy Kalayci said that the national consensus commission will form the infrastructure of the presidential system.

"The aim of our commission is to form infrastructure of the presidential system, which will make Turkey a leader in 2023, the 100th anniversary of the republic," he said.

On Jan. 8, MHP leader Devlet Bahceli announced that his party would support President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the 2019 presidential elections rather than fielding a presidential candidate of its own.

Ahead of the constitutional referendum last April, the two parties campaigned for approval of the sweeping package of changes.

In the referendum, Turkish voters had approved a package of constitutional changes handing wide-ranging executive powers to the president and eliminating the post of prime minister, 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).

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

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