Quake Aftermath Poses Questions on Timing and Conditions for Turkey Elections
As Turkey grapples with the aftermath of two devastating earthquakes, questions have arisen about whether the 2023 general and presidential elections will be postponed or held under a state of emergency. According to International IDEA’s Democracy Tracker, Turkey’s democratic performance has been consistently declining over the past two decades. This worrying trend has led to speculation that the 2023 elections could be a pivotal moment, and perhaps last chance, to forestall further democratic decline.
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the institutional position of International IDEA, its Board of Advisers or its Council of Member States.
Several weeks before the earthquakes struck, President Erdoğan announced that elections would be moved to 14 May, approximately a month earlier than scheduled. Having held office for two decades, first as prime minister in 2003 and then as president since 2014, Erdoğan claimed that his upcoming candidacy would not fall afoul of the two-term presidential term limit since his first term was before Turkey transitioned from a parliamentary system to a (super-) presidential system of government. His party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), has been in power since 2002, overseeing an authoritarian shift characterised by concentration of power in the executive, arrests of political opposition and weakening of democratic institutions. Despite these developments, elections in Turkey are still considered competitive, and Erdoğan was due to face his toughest electoral challenge yet as the country continues to suffer from a spiralling economic crisis.
Since the earthquake, Erdoğan has not announced any amendment to the previously scheduled 14 May election date, which would need to be officially announced 60 days in advance. However, a senior member of the ruling AKP, Bülent Arınç, has recommended postponement of the election and suggested it either be held in November 2023, together with local elections in March 2024, or on a new date agreed together with all other parties as per a Twitter post.
Turkey’s constitution does not foresee postponement of elections except ...
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