Lira reverses gains as Erdoğan ally calls for polls


Turkey’s lira reversed gains on Tuesday after Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of a nationalist party allied with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, called for early elections. The government said it will consider the proposal.

The lira weakened to 4.11 per dollar, 0.4 percent weaker, after trading at 4.07 earlier in the day.

Presidential and parliamentary elections should be brought forward to August this year from November 2019, said Bahçeli, who is head of the Nationalist Action Party (MHP). The MHP has agreed an election alliance with Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“The most reasonable thing is for the Turkish nation to go to the polls on Aug. 26, 2018 with the spirit of a new victory and for both the president and the members of parliament to be elected,” Bahçeli said.

Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesperson Bekir Bozdağ said Bahçeli’s offer needs to first be discussed at the AKP’s decision-making bodies. Erdoğan and Bahçeli will meet on April 18 to talk about the issue, Hurriyet newspaper reported.

Speculation has intensified that Erdoğan’s government will call early polls after a military campaign in Syria won wide government support and measures to stimulate the economy were introduced. AKP officials have so far denied that an early election was being considered.

The lira has slumped about 8 percent against the dollar since the start of the year on concern that the Turkish economy is overheating and elections will be called.

Bahçeli’s party was split last year over his alliance with Erdoğan. Meral Akşener, who left the MHP to form the Good party (IP) is seen as the main challenger to Erdoğan in the presidential election, in which the top two candidates in a first round of voting go into a run off. Erdoğan has chosen to ignore Akşener in recent party rallies, preferring to focus on his long-standing rivalry with Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

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