The detention of pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputies last week triggered questions in Ankara about whether their absence in Parliament will lead to a mid-term election, though established practices of Turkish politics means a mid-term election is still unlikely.
Last week, a Turkish court ordered the arrest of the co-chairs and nine other members of the HDP for refusing to bear testimony under the scope of ongoing terror investigations. Meanwhile, political circles in Ankara started to discuss the possible consequences of HDP deputies' absence in Parliament. However, current laws and practices indicate that a mid-term election is only a remote possibility.
In May, the Turkish parliament approved a bill to amend the constitution and strip 138 parliamentarians of immunity from prosecution. Afterwards, legal processes for the lawmakers from all four parties began. Nine deputies from the HDP have been pending trial as of Nov. 7, though the trial period does not affect the continuation of their duties as parliamentarians. According to article 84 of the current Constitution, the loss of parliamentarian membership occurs through a final judicial sentence and takes affect after the General Assembly of the Turkish Parliament has been notified of the court decision on the matter. Additionally, Parliament may decide to hold mid-term elections under the Turkish electoral law if the number of vacant seats reaches 5 percent of the regular total number of deputies. In this regard, a mid-term election can be held if 28 Parliamentarians lose their membership. Therefore, mid-term elections seem unlikely under the current circumstances even if the nine HDP deputies detained last week receive convictions in court. The collective resignation of HDP deputies from Parliament might be another option for a mid-term election. However, the resignation of HDP deputies in this case must be accepted by an absolute majority in Parliament. Nevertheless, considering the current chair distribution, this option also seems a remote possibility.
Also yesterday, HDP spokesman Ayhan Bilgen declared in a press conference in southeastern Diyarbakır province that the HDP's senior executives meeting resulted in a decision to not participate in the general assembly and commission sessions of Parliament. Meanwhile, former HDP deputy and current co-chair of the Democratic Regions Party (DBP), Sabahat Tuncel, was also among those detained Sunday.
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