Turkey’s top election authority has ruled that the fledgeling Iyi (Good) Party will be allowed to run in June snap elections, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.
The Supreme Election Board has named the newly formed party among the 10 parties eligible to run in the upcoming polls.
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Fifteen Turkish MPs from the main opposition switched to the nationalist Iyi Party to ensure they could run in the elections in two months, officials from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) said.
Sunday’s developments came after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan this week called the parliamentary and presidential polls on June 24, bringing forward the vote by more than a year.
His most credible challenge is seen as coming from Meral Aksener, a popular former interior minister who last year founded Iyi Party after splitting with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which is supporting Erdogan.
The vote on June 24 – the date has to be confirmed by the electoral board – will mark the first time that parliamentary and presidential elections are held under a new system which gives the new president increased powers.
In April 2017, a constitutional referendum narrowly won by the government’s “Yes” camp changed Turkey’s parliamentary system to an executive presidency.
Parties with 20 or more deputies are recognised as groups in parliament and automatically have the right to run candidates.
The CHP has 116 members in the 550-seat parliament after the departures.
“Our friends will not go down in history as MPs who left their party. They will go down as heroes who saved the democracy following their responsibility to their party,” Bulent Tezcan, a CHP spokesperson, said.
“This is not an easy task to do. It is a hard one. But these days of one-man rule are where we show our strength and ability to accomplish hard tasks.”
There has also been debate about whether the Iyi Party’s convention was held the required six months before voting day – which is a condition to run as a political party in the June 24 polls.
Parliament voted this week to extend the state of emergency – in place since a failed coup attempt in July 2016 – for another three months, meaning the June 24 vote will also take place under emergency rule.