Turkey may hold elections if a constitutional reform package expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers is not approved by parliament, an AKP lawmaker and head of parliament's constitutional commission, Mustafa Sentop, said.
"If the proposal doesn't pass in the general assembly, even if nobody wants it, Turkey will have to hold elections," Anadolu agency cited him as saying.
Turkey's parliament this week began debating a package of constitutional reforms that would introduce the executive presidency long sought by Erdogan and his supporters.
The country's parliament on Thursday adopted the fifth article of a new constitutional reform package. The article was endorsed by 343 of the assembly's 550 lawmakers. Seven others rejected it, three papers were left blank and one vote was deemed invalid.
Thirteen more amendments proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) will be voted on in Parliament, although the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party has said it will hold a popular vote regardless.
To reach a referendum, the proposed changes must first be passed by 330 deputies. If it gets the support of 367 lawmakers, it qualifies to pass into law without a referendum.
In 2015, parliamentary elections in Turkey were held twice - on June 7 and November 7. Early elections were needed in the autumn, as the AKP had lost its parliamentary majority, and they was unable to form a coalition government.
The head of the political research of the Center for Modern Turkish Studies, Yuri Mavashev, speaking with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that we cannot rule out the option of holding early parliamentary elections this year. "In the situation of the ruling Justice and Development Party any means are good, because there's a lot at stake. According to plans of the AKP, three amendments per day should be discussed, with taking a decision on it, but this does not happen, it is slowed down by various incidents like the recent scuffle," he pointed out.
In this regard, the parliamentary elections are quite possible, but it is not clear whether the ruling party will benefit from it. "If through the elections the AKP wants to win more seats in the parliament to guarantee the adoption of amendments to the Constitution, it is not certain that it would be appropriate. The fact is that the AKP has already agreed with the Nationalist Movement Party on support of the amendments, they have 364 votes, which is enough for holding a referendum on amending the Constitution," Yuri Mavashev believes.
According to him, the statement is aimed against primarily Republican People's Party. "The CHP with 127 votes in Parliament can still slow down the process of discussing the amendments,"the expert said.
The lack of a full agreement in the parliament on the amendments will be further polarize Turkish society. "No one wants to negotiate in Turkey now. Those opposing Erdogan will oppose him even tougher, those supporting Erdogan will support him even harder. We should not forget that the credibility of the authorities was undermined by latest series of terrorist attacks," Yuri Mavashev admitted.
"Now it is difficult to determine which part of the population supports Erdogan in these amendments to the Constitution. It is not clear whether they will support Erdogan after he changed his position on Syria. That is why the Party of Justice and Development is nervous, voicing such warnings about possible early parliamentary elections," the head of the political research of the Center for Modern Turkish Studies concluded.