Erosion of AKP puts coalition scenarios on Ankara’s agenda
DAILY NEWS PhotoThe unexpected nearly 10-point decline in votes for the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which cost it its parliamentary majority, has prompted feverish speculation in Ankara about possible coalition scenarios, with an AKP-led government option appearing to prevail among others.
The June 7 parliamentary election saw a drop in the AKP’s votes to 40.8 percent, giving it 258 seats at parliament, leaving the party 18 seats short of forming a single-party government as it has done since 2002. As none of the political parties were able to garner enough votes to form a government alone, Ankara politics almost resembles the coalition negotiating years of the 1990s.
Forming a coalition government will take some time due to legal procedures but there was no sign on when any process would be launched as of late afternoon on June 8. A meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu that was scheduled for June 8 was postponed by one day, according to sources.
It is not sure whether or not Erdoğan will give Davutoğlu the mandate to form a government on June 9, although there is no legal restriction to him doing so. However, the president may wait for the official finalization of the election results, which Supreme Election Board (YSK) head Sadi Güven said would take up to 12 days due to various appeals for recounts in a number of constituencies.
Mandate to be given to AKP leader
As is required by Turkish laws and political customs, President Erdoğan is expected to give the mandate to Davutoğlu, as the head of the party with most seats in parliament. Turkey’s 63rd government must be formed within 45 days of the mandate being given, which pushes Davutoğlu to act as swiftly as possible and to engage in coalition negotiations with other political parties. The president has the right to take the country to early polls if political parties fail to form a government within 45 days.
As senior AKP officials have underlined, the party will likely be the main partner in a coalition government with either the Republican People’s Party (CHP) with 132 seats, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) with 80 seats, or the People’s Democracy Party (HDP) with 80 seats.
There is also a possibility of the AKP forming a minority government with support being given by one of these parties on certain conditions, but this is thought to be the least likely scenario.
CHP or MHP?
As the HDP has categorically underlined that it will not form a coalition government with the AKP, eyes have now turned to the two other parties, whose initial statements appear to have left doors open to the ruling party. One difference between the CHP and the MHP is that the former is against going to early polls while the latter has openly challenged the AKP for early elections.
The CHP leadership has underlined that the message delivered by Turkish voters was for parties to form a coalition government and not to leave the country without a government. A coalition between the AKP and the CHP would be considered a broad-based coalition government, as the total seats of the parties add up to 390, a majority of more than two thirds of parliament.
Under any condition, it seems likely that reducing the controversial national election threshold from 10 percent will also constitute one of central points of debate during coalition negotiations.
A three-party coalition?
An AKP-MHP coalition would have 338 seats at parliament, enough to take a constitutional amendment to a referendum in the event that the two parties can agree. Such a coalition is seen by many as more likely than an AKP-CHP coalition, as the base of both the AKP and the MHP overlap on a number of issues.
Another option is a coalition that excludes the AKP, composed of all three smaller parties, or composed of the CHP and the MHP with occasional outside support from the HDP. For this scenario to come into play, Davutoğlu must fail in his attempt to form the government and the president must give the mandate to CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
Race for the speaker will be a test
As the parties continue their deliberations on the next government, a first test on potential alliances will be observed during jostling for nomination of the new parliament speaker, who has to be elected by a simple majority. Parliament is expected to be convened on June 24 and it must elect the speaker within 10 days after that date.
In the first and second rounds of the election of the parliament speaker, contenders must win a simple majority to get elected. In the event that the competition is extended to third and fourth rounds, then the first two candidates with the most votes will compete, thus requiring a kind of alliance to be struck between the parties.