Adem Altan / AFP / Getty Images
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan scheduled new presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24, more than a year ahead of schedule. The change announced last Wednesday by Erdogan is accelerating the implementation of last year's constitutional amendments, which will give the president far-reaching new powers after the next national election.
Just a few hours after Erdogan's televised speech on Wednesday, Turkish MPs voted in favor of extending the country's state of emergency until July – the seventh such expansion since Ankara first implemented it after a coup attempt in July 2016.
Erdogan said in the presidential palace in Ankara before the parliamentary election that the country with political uncertainty in In the region there simply was no time to lose to plan new elections.
"Although the president and the government are working in unison, the diseases of the old system are meeting us every step of the way," Erdogan said, translated by The Guardian. "The developments in Syria and elsewhere have made it urgently necessary to switch to the new executive system in order to drive forward the future of our country."
Earlier this year, Turkey launched a military operation in northwestern Syria, which aimed to expel Kurdish fighters from the region beyond the Turkish border. Ankara sees the Kurdish militias of the People's Protection Units (YPG) operating in the area as a terrorist group allied with Kurdish separatists within their own borders – and only last month the Turkish military conquered the Syrian city of Afrin from the Kurds. 19659008] As Peter Kenyon of NPR noted at the time, Erdogan has seen a surge of domestic support for the operation, which "has led analysts to conclude that Erdogan's political support is on the rise."
At the same time Erdogan said his decision to take the election was made not only on its own, but partly at the suggestion of a political ally Devlet Bahçeli, leader of the nationalist MHP party, suggested The idea Tuesday. Bahçeli said there was little reason to extend the wait for the implementation of the constitutional amendments passed last year, replacing the country's parliamentary government with a government that focuses most of its power on the president.
Erdogan added in his speech that his ruling Justice The Development and Development Party (AKP) has concluded a political alliance with Bahçeli's party for the upcoming elections.
However, other parties have resisted the proposal – at least as long as the nearly two-year state of emergency persists
"There can be no choice under emergency rules," said Bulent Tezcan, spokesman for the main opposition party, according to Reuters. "The country must come out of the emergency regime from today."
Electoral-state elections should accelerate Erdogan's consolidation of power – and will hardly be welcome news in the European Union, Turkey has tried to join. Only a day earlier, the European Commission, the EU's executive body, expressed its dismay over recent political developments in Turkey.
"It is worrying that Turkey has made major steps backwards in the crucial area of fundamental rights", Johannes Hahn, the commissioner is considering potential new members, [Tuesday] on Tuesday a new report on Turkey's EU bid presents.
Given that the 2016 coup attempt has fundamentally changed the security situation in Turkey, Hahn disproved Ankaras response
"Journalists, human rights activists, members of civil society are still imprisoned," he added. "Since the declaration of the state of emergency, more than 150,000 people have been arrested and many are still imprisoned."
The protracted report itself made things even clearer: "Turkey should abolish the state of emergency."
The Turkish Foreign Ministry, for its part, dismissed the report's conclusions in a lengthy retort, pointing to the ongoing fight against multiple terrorist organizations ,
"Unfortunately, the European Commission has shown that once again it was unwilling to understand the difficulties of the time we are going through," the ministry said in its statement. "Although we have repeatedly explained these issues through documents, the Commission could not be objective and balanced."
Despite EU concerns over the state of emergency, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced Wednesday that they would act without delay, according to the state Anadolu Agency
"The process has officially begun," he said.