|Wednesday, 22 January 2020|
Turkish Press Review, 07-05-02
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From: Turkish Directorate General of Press and Information <http://www.byegm.gov.tr>Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning
 CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ANNULS FIRST-ROUND PRESIDENTIAL VOTETurkey's Constitutional Court ruled late yesterday to annul the first round of presidential voting in Parliament last week, saying that the quorum rules applied were unconstitutional. Following four hours of deliberations, Deputy Chief Justice Hasim Kilic announced the court's 9-2 decision that a quorum of 367 is needed for voting in the first and second rounds of the presidential election. In related news, Parliament's Advisory Council is set to convene today to establish a new schedule for the presidential election. Meanwhile, following the court ruling, the second round of voting planned for today in Parliament was also cancelled. The council is expected to set May 3, 7, 11 and 15 as the new dates for rounds of voting. /Cumhuriyet/
 ERDOGAN: "GENERAL ELECTIONS WILL BE HELD AS SOON AS POSSIBLE"Following the Constitutional Court decision annulling the first round of presidential voting last Friday, members of the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) Central Executive Board (MYK) convened yesterday. After a three-hour meeting, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that his party respected the top court's decision as well as democratic procedures. Erdogan said that the presidential election process would continue in line with a new schedule to be set by Parliament's Advisory Council. Apart from that process, the AKP will apply to Parliament to hold general elections as early as possible, said the premier. "General elections could be held on June 24 or July 1." He stated that they would evaluate the presidential election process following a fresh first round of voting tomorrow in Parliament, adding that if Parliament is unable to elect a new president, then they will work to replace the current system with a popular vote. He also added that they would present a constitutional amendment package to ensure general elections every four years rather than five, popular election of the president in two rounds, and a shortened presidential term of five years, but allowing two terms. He also stressed they would work to enable people who are 25 to run for seats in Parliament in the upcoming general elections. /Turkiye/
 CICEK: "IF ELECTIONS ARE MOVED FORWARD, THE LOWERED ELIGIBILITY AGE SHOULD APPLY"Commenting on yesterday's major court decision on the presidential election, government spokesperson Cemil Cicek yesterday told reporters, "We respect the decision like everyone else, and the government respects the law. But it will certainly cause debate among legal circles." He also said that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was ready for likely general elections and if the opposition parties are sincere, polls should be held as soon as possible. "But we have only one condition," he added. "If elections were held on Nov. 3, people over 25 would be able to run for Parliament. But if the elections are moved forward, this right would be suspended until the next general elections." Cicek said the government could redress this situation to make sure the younger age would apply whenever elections are held. /Aksam/
 BAYKAL: "THE NEXT PRESIDENT SHOULD BE A CONSENSUS FIGURE"Praising the Constitutional Court decision annulling last week's first- round vote for president, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal yesterday called it a historic ruling that offered the country a way out of political crisis, adding, "I think that the decision has opened Turkey's front not only for now but also for the future. This decision shows that from now on presidential elections won't be hold through the imposition of any one political party. The limited ideology of one political party won't be reflected in the presidential elections." He also said that the decision signaled that there should be an overall consensus on whoever becomes the next president. In related news, opposition Motherland Party (ANAVATAN) leader Erkan Mumcu criticized the court ruling as an attack on the nation's peace. True Path Party (DYP) leader Mehmet Agar said, "We always said (the election dispute) shouldn't be taken to court. If only the government had acted before it was taken to court and a decision to hold (general) elections was taken." /Aksam/
 CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULING GETS ATTENTION OF WORLD MEDIAYesterday's Constitutional Court annulling the first round of the presidential election got widespread coverage from the world media. Here is a sampling: Reuters: The decision paved the way for early elections. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) wants to boost its chance through legislation lowering the age to run for Parliament to 25. Agence France Press (AFP): The ruling came amid a tense standoff between the secularist military and the ruling Islamist-rooted AKP, whose Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul was the sole candidate in the presidential election. BBC: Our correspondent says the court is officially independent but had been under immense pressure to reach precisely this verdict. It is one that is likely to divide Turkey further, she says. The New York Times: Turkey's highest court blocked a presidential candidate with a background in Islamic politics, pitching the country into early elections and a referendum on the role of religion in its future. But the ruling was more political than legal, said supporters of the government's candidate. Mega TV (Greece): Political chaos in Turkey -- The military won the first round against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan seems to be struggling against the military. But on the opposite side, there are democrats who don't want Turkey to be like Iran. /Hurriyet/
 AKP DEPUTY RESIGNSJustice and Development Party (AKP) Afyon Deputy Ibrahim Hakki Askar yesterday resigned from the AKP, criticizing the ruling party's policies. Following Askar's move, the AKP's seats in Parliament fell to 352, while those of independents rose to 11. /Milliyet/
 CLASHES MARK LABOR DAYPolice and demonstrators who gathered to celebrate Labor Day clashed violently in and around Istanbul's Taksim Square yesterday. Police detained more than 1,000 demonstrators, while at least 23 protestors were injured. The clashes were caused by police insistence on preventing people from marching to Taksim Square to celebrate the day and protest the anniversary of a mass shooting 30 years ago. The incident had left 34 people dead, most of them killed in a stampede. In related news, safety precautions caused great chaos in Istanbul's traffic. /All papers/
FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS...
 MANAGING THE CRISISBY YILMAZ OZTUNA (TURKIYE)
Columnist Yilmaz Oztuna comments on recent controversial political developments and the prospect of early elections. A summary of his column is as follows:
"In democracies, elections are solutions to crises and by producing new administrations, they lead to new hopes. The nation, which is the owner of the country, doesn't vote for parties which it doesn't like. On the other hand, it votes for parties which it does like and helps them come to power.
Democracy rises. The national will, too, arises. But there are conditions for this: There will be trouble if the election law is bad, disordered, or outdated, and this could lead to tensions and arguments.
We held elections under a terrible election law, and more than four years have passed since then. Neither the government nor the opposition has made any move to reform the law.
It's understandable why the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) acted this way, since it's confident it would get the most votes in general elections, but the stance of other parties is surprising. If trouble arises and they can't get into Parliament (due to the 10% threshold), I will use this column to point out the incompetence of the leaders of those parties.
Voters are always unpredictable. The party of late Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit won the elections in 1995, but got only 2.2% of the vote in fall 2002. If the voters decide that the AKP can't get along with the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) could get most of the votes in summer elections. If the nation believes that the AKP is justified, then AKP could win the elections. I know this is a terrifying scenario, but that doesn't mean it couldn't happen. The AKP winning all 550 seats in Parliament is the most extreme scenario.
Under our democratic regime, the prime minister is responsible for everything. If Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan handles this crisis properly, the nation will recognize his identity as a statesman in the next elections. But if he doesn't, then the nation will show that it doubts Erdogan is a real statesman."
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