Erdogan announces snap Turkish election as coalition talks fail

Erdogan announces snap Turkish election as coalition talks fail
Turkish voters will return to the polls on November 1, in what many see as a calculated strategy by the president to win the majority that eluded him in June.
3 min read
21 August, 2015
Erdogan has spoken at televised funerals of police officers killed in PKK clashes[Getty]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday he will call snap elections likely to be held on 1 November, after coalition talks fell apart, producing an unprecedented political impasse.

Erdogan, who suffered a rare political setback in inconclusive June polls, said he would meet the speaker of parliament on Monday to make the arrangements and then formally call the new elections.

"We will take our country to elections," Erdogan told reporters after Friday prayers in Ankara.

We will take our country to elections
- Recep Tayyip Erdogan

"God willing, Turkey will have the elections again on November 1."

A deadline for political parties to agree a coalition following the 7 June election runs out on Sunday, with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) having failed to form a coalition.

The AKP remained the largest party but lost its overall majority for the first time since it came to power in 2002, in a blow to Erdogan's authority over the country of 75 million people.

Erdogan's comments indicated he would use his right to call elections as president, rather than using the alternative route of agreeing the new polls through a motion in parliament.

"Can the president call early elections according to the constitution? Yes he can," said Erdogan.

Opponents have accused Erdogan of seeking a renewed election all along, while meddling in the coalition talks in the hope the AKP would improve its vote share in fresh polls.

After Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's negotiations for an AKP-led coalition with other parties, Erdogan notably refrained from offering the second-placed Republican People's Party (CHP) the chance to form a government.

The opposition has accused Erdogan of violating the constitution - but the president said he would not meet CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who refuses to set foot in Erdogan's controversial new presidential palace.

"Why shall I invite the one who does not know Bestepe"? he said, referring to the Ankara district where the palace is located.

"Is there a reason to lose time?"

Another throw of the dice

The fresh election comes as Turkey fights an "anti-terror" offensive against Kurdish militants, with some critics accusing Erdogan of manufacturing a renewed military campaign for political gain.

Turkish forces have killed 771 militants from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey over the past four weeks, the state news agency Anatolia said on Friday.

The blood of [the fallen] will not remain on the ground
- Recep Tayyip Erdogan

The agency, whose figures could not be confirmed independently, said among those killed were 430 rebels who died in air raids on PKK camps in Iraq.

Meanwhile, some 50 Turkish soldiers and police have been killed in recent attacks blamed on the PKK, with their funerals a daily event on Turkish television.

"With God's permission, we will emerge victorious out of this business... the blood of [the fallen] will not remain on the ground," said Erdogan.

Under the constitution, a so-called "election government", comprising all the political parties represented in parliament, will lead Turkey until the election.

The situation is unprecedented - the Muslim-majority but staunchly secular Turkey has never seen repeat snap elections after the collapse of coalition talks.

The CHP and third-placed Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have both so far refused to take part in a unity government, leaving the fourth-placed Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) - which the AKP accuses of being a front for the outlawed PKK.