Turkey to hold snap polls on Nov 1: Erdogan

August 22, 2015 9:53 am
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– ‘Emerge victorious’ –

The election will come as Turkey fights an “anti-terror” offensive against Kurdish militants and jihadists, with some critics accusing Erdogan of seeking political gain out of the conflict.

Turkish forces have killed 771 militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in operations including air strikes in northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey over the last four weeks, the state news agency Anatolia said Friday.

Meanwhile, some 50 Turkish soldiers and police have been killed in 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 (martyrs) will not remain on the ground,” said Erdogan.

But the CHP scoffed at Erdogan’s comments.

“Every day young people are dying, the economy is on the verge of crisis, there is no government and meanwhile Sir (Erdogan) is making caprices about his palace,” said CHP MP Sezgin Tanrikulu.

Under the constitution a so-called “election government”, comprising all the political parties represented in parliament, will lead Turkey from the calling of the vote to the election.

The situation is unprecedented – the mainly Muslim 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 such a unity government, leaving only the fourth-placed Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) which the AKP accuses of being a front for the PKK.

It remains to be seen if the AKP will improve on its vote share of just under 41 percent in the new polls, and commentators have described Erdogan’s strategy as a major political gamble.

Ihsan Bal, of the Ankara-based think tank USAK, said the elections have been called one month earlier than the usual three month warning period, possibly due to fears over the economic situation and the unrest.

“The current picture shows the AKP votes will not be up,” he said, adding the CHP could benefit from having shown a constructive approach in the coalition efforts.

Turkey’s lira has been pressured by the uncertainty, breaking the ceiling of three to the dollar for the first time on Thursday after the November 1 election date was first evoked.

It has since rallied slightly and Friday the lira gained 0.20 percent to trade at 2.91 to the dollar.

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