Important Questions #TurkishElections2018
Letters are pouring in from readers and friends regarding the upcoming elections.
Some ask whether for some reason the elections might be cancelled or postponed by the ruling government and the president. Some ask how the seats in parliament will be arranged if some MPs are appointed as ministers. Could there be a snap election after or will the result of the elections be similar to that of the recent election at the Istanbul club Fenerbahçe, whose electorate opted for total change?
The Constitutional Court has terminated all the probable legal arguments that might lead to a cancellation or postponement of the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections. Force majeure conditions might of course impair the election process but after two years of emergency rule, what conditions could be more unfortunate — other than war? At least, so far, Turkey is fighting against some “evil elements” in northern Iraq, Syria and in rural areas of southeastern Turkey but such events might not constitute the required force majeure conditions as they have become the routine of this country. Elections might be called off or postponed by parliament and the Supreme Electoral Board (YSK) if for any reason conditions no longer allow the conduct of just and fair elections. In Turkey, just and fair elections have become a dream because of the majoritarian understanding the country has fallen into. Yet, so far there appears to be no sufficient reason for the postponement or cancellation of the polls.
If some deputies are appointed as members of the first cabinet of the executive president, under the latest changes in the constitution their parliamentarian statuses will automatically terminate. During the time of the constitutional amendments there were discussions of the introduction of an ascension system under which if a seat is vacated the next in line from the same party of the province would fill the seat. However, because of the fear that deputies might fall prey to greed of their “comrades in arms” to have a parliamentary seat, no such system was introduced. Thus, if a seat is vacated by a deputy becoming minister, it remains vacant. However, such vacant seat or seats are not taken into account in establishing either the parliamentary quorum, majority or qualified majority calculations.
If, however, five percent of parliamentary seats are vacated for any reason, parliament might make a decision and go to by-elections. Only if all seats of a province are vacated for any reason, in that province, within 90 days after the seats are vacated interim elections would be held automatically. As the latest changes did not provide any new stipulation regarding how to fill vacant parliamentary seats, if all seats from a province are vacated, under such conditions interim elections within 90 days is a must under Article 78 of the Constitution.
Still, under the current constitution no interim or by-election can be held within 30 months after parliamentary elections. Similarly, if less than 12 months are left to the scheduled parliamentary elections, no interim or by-election is possible.
If the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) loses its parliamentary majority but President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is reelected, can he call for snap elections? He can’t. However, the president might resign and force parliament to go to election within 90 days, and to do that under the current legislative framework he does not need to give any reason. In that case Erdoğan might still seek reelections as his pre-2018 term in office will not count as his first term. Thus, under such conditions Erdoğan will seek reelection for his “second” term. If, at least one year before the termination of that term he calls for new elections, in that case, he might seek reelection for a last time.
Another interesting question was regarding presidential executive orders (decrees) and laws legislated by parliament. The president has the right to rule the country by issuing executive orders on most issues, yet if his decrees and the laws contradict, laws apply. If after he issued a decree, parliament makes a law on the same issue, the law applies. If the president vetoes a law, parliament can bypass the presidential veto by 301 votes (absolute majority). If parliament overrides a presidential veto by 301 votes, the president does not use his veto power again.