AKP, CHP ready for genuine talks
The two relative losers of the June 7 elections, Justice and Development Party (AKP) head Ahmet Davutoğlu and Republican People’s Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, are clearly the leaders with the best post-election performance.
Both leaders have diffused positive messages to the public that a coalition government will surely be formed and they will not allow Turkey to be dragged into political instability. Both Davutoğlu and Kılıçdaroğlu have categorically rejected the idea of early elections, underlining that their priority is to form a lasting government based on mutual trust.
They have shown the character of responsible politicians compared to Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, who became “Mr. No” immediately after the elections, probably fearing that he would be obliged to be part of a coalition government. Understandable or not, the MHP and its leaders have a phobia of forming a coalition government because of their bad experiences in the early 2000s, when the party dropped below the 10 percent threshold in the 2002 election after ruling as part of a three-party coalition.
Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, the co-chairs of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), have followed a rather low-profile since the latest election, enjoying the comfort of their unexpected 13 percent of votes that gave the HDP 80 seats in parliament - an equal number as the MHP. They have closed their ears to all coalition calls and have consistently said their primary objective is to be a strong opposition at parliament, in order to prepare for the next election.
AKP head Davutoğlu has pursued a very stable and strategic line since the election. His main messages are that the AKP is against early elections and is ready to hold honest and well-intended talks with opposition parties. Of all political leaders, Davutoğlu has been the quietest. He has opted to consult almost all of his party’s branches to try to understand the causes of the decline in the AKP’s votes and to listen to them about coalition scenarios.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s frequent calls for the parties to act responsibly and to put their egos aside could be interpreted as meaning that he may also follow this advice, as he has indirectly sent messages that he won’t cast a shadow over a coalition government.
Before official talks over a coalition government take place, the final thing that the political parties have to resolve is the election of the new parliament speaker. The four parties have all announced their candidates ahead of next week’s vote.
The only party that had a rather difficult in-house process for the selection of its nominee for the position was the CHP. Despite some opposing views, Kılıçdaroğlu named Baykal for the post. The controversy about Baykal arose after he met with President Erdoğan just three days after the election, which created trouble in the social democratic party’s house, amid criticism that the meeting would legitimize the status of the president.
However, one alternative reading of the situation suggests that Baykal’s nomination would not be so negative for Kılıçdaroğlu. As the parliament speaker will be elected before the formal launch of coalition talks and every party will stick to its candidate until the third round of voting, the parliament speaker election will not be linked to any coalition scenarios.
In the event that Baykal is elected to the post thanks to the support of other oppositional parties, it would be a gain for Kılıçdaroğlu, as his party will get this position once again for the first time in 16 years. On the other hand, if Baykal fails to get elected as parliament speaker it will not upset Kılıçdaroğlu too much. In fact, he could use Baykal’s failed candidacy for the position against him in the event that the former CHP head demanded a ministerial position in a potential coalition government with the AKP.
Fortunately, three weeks after the June 7 election the two biggest parties, the AKP and the CHP, seem to be ready to launch serious and genuine talks for a coalition government. But running a coalition government is much more difficult than forming one. So the two parties, although ideologically in totally opposite camps, would have to find a way to deal with both macro and micro issues that their partnership could face throughout its time in office. Perhaps both the most ideal and rational objective of such a coalition government would be to prioritize the writing of a new constitution for Turkey.