Ankara: Turkey`s election board on Thursday proposed holding snap legislative polls on November 1, adding to tensions amid a grave security crisis and sending the Turkish lira to a new historic low.
The date is considerably sooner than most commentators had expected after efforts to form a coalition ended in failure following inconclusive June 7 polls.
The proposal, which was presented to political parties, comes three days ahead of an August 23 deadline for forming a new government.
The Higher Election Board (YSK) will determine an exact date for elections after the parties give their opinion.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu`s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its overall majority in June for the first time since it came to power in 2002.
Davutoglu formally told President Recep Tayyip Erdogan this week that he had failed to form a coalition government.
Under the constitution, Erdogan should now be obliged to give a mandate to the second-placed Republican People`s Party (CHP) to form a new government.
But the president indicated Wednesday he would not do so.
Investors have been rattled by the prospect of early elections and political uncertainty as well as spiralling violence between Turkish security forces and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants, smashing a 2013 ceasefire.
Turkey`s embattled lira on Thursday hit a new historic low in value against the US dollar, breaking the ceiling of three lira to the dollar for the first time.
The currency hit 3.0031 lira to the greenback in early morning trade, according to Bloomberg, before rallying to 2.91 -- a gain of 0.5 percent on the day so far.
The Turkish currency has now declined 8.0 percent against the dollar over the last month, and 24.8 percent since the start of the year.
The hard-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which came third in the polls, called for martial law in areas of the mostly Kurdish southeast hit by the violence and for elections to be postponed.
"Otherwise we could be faced with an inevitable, bloody civil war," its leader Devlet Bahceli said in a statement. "Turkey is slipping away from our hands."
After a meeting of the AKP`s executive committee, Davutoglu slammed the statement as "political irresponsibility" and "shaking trust in democracy."
"We will take any kind of security measures needed but we will never allow democracy to be suspended in Turkey," he told reporters in Ankara.
Davutoglu said he wanted to meet with the leaders of the second placed Republican People`s Party (CHP) and MHP to win their support for early elections, so a motion can be passed by parliament.
Should this not be the case, an election will be called by the president and a so-called "election government" should be formed including members of all the political forces represented in parliament.
But this would mean the AKP would have to work with the third-placed pro-Kurdish Peoples` Democratic Party (HDP), which it has accused of being a PKK front.
"This is not my voluntary choice but a constitutional obligation," said Davutoglu, adding that a government with the HDP was the "scenario I wanted the least to realise."
The CHP and MHP have both so far refused to take part in such a government.
"As we failed to form a government, let`s go to elections with the votes of lawmakers, not with the president`s decision," said Davutoglu.
As tensions mounted, Turkish authorities launched dawn raids in Istanbul and the southern city of Mersin to arrest 40 suspected members of an ultra-left group, a day after two of its militants attacked the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul, one of the country`s main tourist attractions.
The Marxist Revolutionary People`s Liberation Party Front (DHKP-C) claimed the attack on the palace which caused no fatalities but added to jitters about security in the city.
The head of pro-government Turkish media outlet Star survived an armed attack inside his armoured car in Istanbul, the private Dogan news agency reported.
A car hit Murat Sancak`s car and after his bodyguard and the driver got out of the car, they were fired at. Preliminary investigation showed 21 bullets targeted the car.