Turkey's major parties seek political alignment for 2019 elections

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-28 16:03:07|Editor: pengying
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ANKARA, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) are seeking consensus to form electoral alliance to boost their chances in 2019 multiple elections.

In 2019, Turkey will hold three polls, local, parliament and presidential elections. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan needs to secure more than 50 percent of votes in the first round of presidential elections.

However, the ambitious Turkish leader's narrow victory in a referendum for constitutional change in April that grants sweeping powers to the presidency with 51.4 percent support alarmed Erdogan.

Moreover, his victory came with significant loss of votes in Turkey's biggest metropolis Istanbul and the capital Ankara, crucial poll indicators for general trends in Turkey.

Erdogan has set his sight on consolidating nationalist, conservative votes for his aspirations to secure an easy victory.

The ruling party reinforced nationalist politics, toned up anti-western rhetoric, and "powerful Turkey" narrative, often vow for military intervention in Syria and Iraq or signal drifting away EU membership bid.

On the other hand, the MHP needs alliance with the ruling party mainly because its ranks are deeply divided.

The nationalist party is on the verge of staying well below the current 10 percent electoral threshold since the party is losing blood after dissidents in November established a new center of attraction for nationalist votes, the Good Party (Iyi Party).

A survey by the SONAR polling firm showed the Good Party has nearly 16 percent of the vote, while MHP has 7 percent, which is below the election barrier.

The AKP and MHP had already laid the foundations for the constitutional referendum. The nationalist party's support facilitated the passage of the AKP-proposed amendment package in parliament in early 2017.

The MHP recently pledged its full support to the ruling party for the 2019 elections.

"Our party, together with the AKP, will struggle for the full establishment of the presidential system in 2019," MHP leader Devlet Bahceli told his parliamentary group on Nov. 14.

Bahceli, in return, urged the AKP lowering the 10-percent threshold required for any political party to get into parliament.

Analysts said that lowering threshold could produce complications for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's aspirations to secure an easy victory and the Kurdish vote might remain with the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) which has nearly 7 percent of votes, according to surveys.

On Nov. 15, President Erdogan hinted a legal amendment could be put forth to allow political parties to form alliances before the upcoming parliamentary elections. "Pre-election alliance can be considered," he said.

The ruling party has been working for amendment on the Elections and Political Parties Law to make ready for 2019, elections and two right wing parties are discussing possible cooperation formulas through back channels.

However, the AKP is not in favor of lowering the threshold objecting a multi-party system at the parliament, instead offers electoral alliance on joint candidate list with the nationalist party, Muharrem Sarikaya, writer and permanent journalist from daily HaberTurk, said.

But, the MHP does not want to be in an alliance where it does not take place by its own party identity, with its own candidate list, he added.

"They have reached consensus on the possibility of alliance, but not on the methodology yet," Sarikaya noted.