Turkey’s political party leaders vow to resign if defeated in June elections

MERVE AYDOĞAN @mgulaydogan
Published 01.06.2015 00:00
Updated 01.06.2015 16:39

Following their defeat in the U.K.'s general election, Britain's three top party leaders resigned from their posts barely an hour after the official election results were announced. In this regard, Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has called upon the leaders of opposition parties to retire from politics in case of a defeat in the upcoming June 7 general elections. Speaking at an election campaign rally in the southeastern province of Adıyaman, Prime Minister Davutoğlu once more underlined that he will resign from his position if the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) fails to win enough votes to form a government.

Recent remarks by Turkish political leaders have been signaling that there may be shift in Turkey's political culture following the upcoming general elections. Although it is uncommon for political leaders to resign following a defeat in elections throughout Turkey's political culture, the incident of the three major party leaders, the U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, the Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband of the Labour Party, resigning less than 52 minutes after Prime Minister David Cameron of the Conservative Party won a landslide victory in the 2015 U.K. general elections, has become a model for Turkish politicians. However, before the incident in the U.K., after the political parties had announced their candidates' lists in April, Davutoğlu said: "If I win, I will continue to hold my position under democratic conditions, but if I lose, which is highly unlikely, I will hand over my seat to the winner and write books."

Prime Minister Davutoğlu calling upon the opposition leaders to resign said, "Here I am making the call: Whoever loses the elections shall leave politics." In addition to Davutoğlu's statements, the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chairman Selahattin Demirtaş also vowed to resign if his party fails to pass the 10 percent election threshold in the June 7 elections, adding that a stronger HDP would continue to push forward in the long-stagnant Kurdish peace process. Demirtas speaking on a local news channel in early May said, "If we fail to communicate with Turkish society, then that would be our fault. If the HDP fails to pass the 10 percent election threshold because of my failure to clearly tell people what we have to offer, then I would resign as co-chair of the HDP."

The Chairman of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, stated last week during a local news channel program that he would also resign if his party fails to reach a 26-percent margin following the elections. He had also previously said he is shooting for 35 percent in the upcoming elections on June 7.

In contrast, a change in leadership in the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is not expected, as MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli has not only refrained from declaring to resign if his party fails to succeed in the upcoming elections, he has also silenced the opposing members within the party during 2013. Bahçeli, during the party's chairmanship elections has closed-down the MHP's seven provincial organizations, which include Çankırı, Muğla and Sakarya, as well as Konya, Edirne, Kütahya and Rize as a result of the organizations' support toward Bahçeli's rivals in party congresses.

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