Ankara (AFP) – President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday hit out at plans by the main opposition party to bolster Turkey’s newest party and enable it to take part in snap presidential and parliamentary elections in June.
There had been concerns that the Iyi (“Good”) Party, which until now had only 5 MPs, would not be able to take part in the elections, which — in a shock announcement last week — Erdogan said he was bringing forward from November 3, 2019 to June 24, 2018.
But on Sunday, 15 lawmakers from the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP) said they were joining the Good Party, giving it the necessary number of MPs to be able to participate in the elections.
Under Turkish law, the new party — with 15 more lawmakers — could form a parliamentary group that could take part in the polls.
Shortly after the move was announced, the Supreme Election Board (YSK) said the Good Party could indeed take part in the June elections.
In reaction, Erdogan condemned the opposition’s manoeuvres and was quoted by the Hurriyet daily as saying that “for the parliament to fall to this state is a disaster for us.”
The two elections will bring in the new executive presidency, boosting the president’s powers, after constitutional changes were approved in a referendum in April 2017.
The government argues the changes are necessary to streamline decision-making, but the opposition argues the moves will bring in one-man rule.
Monday marked a public holiday in Turkey and tensions were high during a special session of parliament.
MPs of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) shouted down the leader of the opposition CHP, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, when he accused the government of a coup on July 20, 2016 — the date when the state of emergency was introduced.
Following the July 15, 2016 attempted coup, the government imposed the emergency and renewed it for the seventh time last week despite fierce opposition.