A constitutional amendment on holding local elections earlier than scheduled was passed by Parliament on Friday, but because only 360 voted for the amendment, should the president approve it, it will need to go to referendum before it can go into effect.
The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) previously submitted to Parliament a proposal indicating that local elections should be held on Oct. 27, 2013, instead of on March 29, 2014, as previously scheduled due to the inclement weather conditions frequent at that time of year.
Gülay Göktürk says this is a tough situation because even if a referendum takes place, the preparation required to hold one takes a long time, so there will be no point in deciding to hold the elections on Oct. 27, 2013.
However, Göktürk thinks the complex situation we are in today is the fault of all the parliamentary deputies. The aim of politics is to solve problems, not to create new ones. But, as a matter of fact, what the deputies have done in this issue is nothing short of turning an easy problem into a more complex one. What was it that they could not agree on? The AK Party wanted the votes to be cast on Oct. 27, while the Republican People’s Party (CHP) wanted to see the elections on Nov. 3, 2013. Now, they are about to make millions of people vote in a referendum because of a disagreement over the difference of a week. The CHP claims that the proposed date of Oct. 27 comes two days before Republic Day, celebrated on Oct. 29, and so people might want to go on vacation rather than vote in a referendum at that time. Of course this is nonsense, but would it kill the AK Party to accept the CHP’s proposal just for the sake of solving the problem? There are far more important issues in Turkey that could go to a referendum. When there are such critical issues to discuss, it is nonsensical to ask the public to go to a referendum and to spend a lot of money merely for a disagreement on scheduling. Now, it is up to the president to fix this by returning the bill to Parliament, Göktürk thinks.
Taha Akyol of the Hürriyet daily says the possibility of going to a referendum to change the date of an election is representative of a greater problem; it is a reflection of the conflicting nature of our political culture. It is possible to criticize the CHP for not supporting a reasonable proposal, but the fact that our politics has become so polarized that agreement on the most reasonable of issues is almost impossible is the realization we should draw from this incident, he concludes.