Turkish nationalist leader calls for early elections

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s de facto coalition partner called on Tuesday for early elections, prompting fresh speculation of snap Turkish polls.

Devlet Bahceli, leader of the ultranationalist National Movement Party (MHP) said that it would “not be easy” for the country to hold off until November 2019, the scheduled date for the next round of presidential and parliamentary elections. Instead he suggested they should take place on August 26.

“Our proposal is this,” he said. “The best way to give the necessary lesson to the enemies of Turkey is by going to the ballot box on August 26, 2018 with a new victory spirit.”

Mr Erdogan and senior Turkish ministers have repeatedly ruled out the prospect of early elections, but that has not prevented feverish talk in Ankara of snap polls.

The news on Tuesday weighed on the Turkish stock market, with the benchmark BIST 100 gauge off 2.1 per cent in recent action. The lira also came under pressure, trading recently at Try4.1171 to the dollar, from a high of TRY4.0745.

Turkish political analysts say that early elections would enable Mr Erdogan to capitalise on the success of his campaign in the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin, limit the time that the opposition has to organise, and pre-empt warnings that the economy cannot continue to grow at its current pace.

It is not clear whether Mr Bahceli’s comments were sanctioned by Mr Erdogan, but the pair have worked closely together since forming an informal alliance last year. In February, Mr Bahceli signed an election pact with Mr Erdogan that will enable his party to enter parliament even if it receives less than the necessary 10 per cent of the vote.

The deputy prime minister Bekir Bozdag said that the ruling party would evaluate the call.