Today’s Zaman reports that Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AK) is preparing its nomination process for the 12 June parliamentary election.
The party received 5,599 applications from would-be candidates, and will accept 1,650.
The 1,650 candidates will be picked based primarily on the results of surveys carried out in the candidates’ respective hometowns. The results will determine whether the hopefuls are nominated as deputy candidates in the approaching elections.
The party aims to have 60 elected women, which would be historic for Turkish parties. It also aims to have a diverse slate ethnically.
The candidate list of the AK Party will have members from all segments of society, including Alevis, Kurds, Syriacs, Roma, Circassians, Bosnians, Albanians and immigrants from Bulgaria and Greece. The AK Party plans to nominate over 20 Alevi candidates from provinces largely populated by Alevis, who are known to traditionally vote for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), but the AK Party is hoping to appeal to Alevi voters in the upcoming elections.
Melkon Karaköse and Herman Balyan, both of Armenian descent, are expected to be on the AK Party’s list of parliamentary candidates. Karaköse has been a member of the AK Party for two years now. He is believed to be close to the party because of its support for the Law on Foundations, which enables foundations run by non-Muslim communities to own property and receive financial assistance from the state. The AK Party is also reportedly in close contact with Bedros ?irino?lu, head of the Surp P?rgiç Armenian Hospital Foundation, to nominate him for the parliamentary elections. It is not yet clear whether he will be nominated or not.
The AK Party also plans to nominate Syriac candidates in the elections. Turkey’s Syriac community lent strong support to the government-sponsored constitutional amendment package, which was voted on in a referendum in September of last year, saying the package would contribute to Turkey’s democratization efforts. Markus Ürek is strongly expected to be the AK Party’s Syriac candidate and will probably be nominated from Mardin or ??rnak, both of which have large Syriac populations.
There will be at least one Roma candidate. “The AK Party won the hearts of Turkey’s Roma when it launched a democratic initiative in 2009 to address problems faced by the Roma.”
The lists will also include some academics and show business and sports notables.
In case it was not obvious, I’ll add that the lists are closed and that the AK is approaching dominant-party status. In other words, it can essentially guarantee election of any candidates it wants in its parliamentary caucus.