President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) would continue working for the local elections, which are scheduled to be held in March 2019, expressing his discontent regarding the June 24 election results, where the ruling AKPlost 7 points from its vote percentage, compared to the previous elections.
“We will continue our march by assessing the message we have received in the elections [from voters]. Just because we have come out of an election atmosphere, we will not stop. On the contrary, we will prepare for local elections while there still is an election atmosphere,” Erdoğan reportedly said during the ruling AKP’s Central Decision and Executive Board meeting on June 30.
In the meeting, the party’s directorate responsible for the election has presented their analysis of the June 24 elections where the AKP had received 42 percent of the votes, while it had received 49 percent in the previous elections in November 2015.
“We will focus on the local elections as soon as possible. We will go to the polls after taking necessary steps in accordance to the message given in the polls of June 24,” he said, adding that the AKP’s ordinary congress would be held sooner than scheduled.
“We will determine our cadres in the congress and commence our election campaign,” he said, adding that the ruling party’s congress would be held in August 2018.
His words were interpreted as a change in the schedule for local elections, to a date earlier than its scheduled date in March 2019.
According to sources, the issue of early local elections was not mentioned at the board meeting. However, some politicians argue local elections might be re-scheduled to October or November 2018.
To bring the local elections to an earlier date necessitates a constitutional change. A constitutional amendment can only be possible with the votes of a qualitative majority in the parliament, which corresponds to 400 votes out of 600 seats in parliament.
As the AKP and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) alliance have 343 seats in the parliament, consent from the oppositions will be needed for early local elections.
In the meantime, some AKP officials argue that it will be difficult to prepare for early elections, which will be held two or three months after the congress. According to them, some problems in the June 24 elections stemmed from the tight schedule. However, general elections were held sooner than scheduled and despite similar concerns, the process for the local elections will be determined by economic conditions.