Coalition search: Fishing in murky waters
What was the message of the electorate? Did it say it wanted an end to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in government? Or did it say it wanted a three-way coalition government of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)? Was the message of the electorate to create a grand coalition of the two big parties, the AKP and the CHP?
There are many intricacies that have emerged now that were not thought of before the elections. Those who opted to part from their parties and lend support to the HDP in the hopes of reducing the parliamentary strength of the AKP so that it would be insufficient to form the government alone did not think about the day after. The strong repulsive feelings between Turkish and nationalist-ethnic politicians overshadowed romantic expectations that, together with the CHP, a three-way restoration government would be easily established. Indeed, the nation and the state required the creation of such a coalition for many obvious reasons, but the parties failed in their first major test of reconciliation, unable to embrace each other.
The country, however, was in desperate need of such governance. Wrongly, everyone has been accusing the AKP of becoming an “etatist party.” The AKP did not become a “state party” but converted the entire state into an AKP office. All institutions, bureaucracy, high boards, lower boards – whatever existed on and below the ground were converted into an AKP enterprise. The governors, mayors, muhtars, the broadcasting watchdog, the energy board, Anadolu Agency, the competition board – in short, everything from A to Z that formed the “state” became the AKP. Today, the state badly needs a comprehensive restoration to cleanse from top to bottom the contamination of the obsessive, majoritarian and dictatorial governance. How can the state be cleansed of AKP contamination with the AKP remaining in power as a minority government or a senior partner of a coalition government? Already there is a problem; the architect of this contamination is occupying the top of the Turkish state and demonstrating determination not to budge a bit despite the strong objection demonstrated by the people to such a style of governance in the June 7 election.
As Turks often say, “It is no big deal for a bachelor to ask for a divorce.” Bringing the MHP and the HDP together in a three-way coalition led by the CHP proved to be more difficult than getting a camel to go through the eye of a needle. With the HDP constantly looking at either or both İmralı island and the northern Iraqi Kandil mountains for instructions from the prisoner – who is serving an enforced life-term for his role in the murder of over 35,000 people in violence related to separatist terrorism over the past three decades – or terrorists refusing to budge, can it be easy for the MHP to engage with the HDP in any way?
Thus, a three-way coalition led by the CHP or a CHP-MHP minority government with external HDP support is becoming all the more difficult every passing day. An AKP splinter group joining in appears to be not in the cards for now, even though the Abdullah Gül factor is gradually consolidating. Yet, with almost 65 percent of the new parliament composed of first timers and the need to serve in parliament for at least two years to earn a life-time lucrative pension negates the probability of a rerun of the elections. Who can guarantee that the same deputies will be able to make a comeback?
His post under growing threat, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, on the other hand, has been expending efforts to form a government under his leadership and go to the September or October convention of the AKP as prime minister. He knows well that that is his last chance of survival, as the tall, bald, bold and ever-yelling man at the extravagant palace has some reserve players to call in to replace him. A minority government supported by any of the three parties or a coalition with the MHP (preferred by most in the AKP) or the CHP (wanted by the business community) might be welcome for the palace as well, while a coalition with the HDP remains a “red line” for the ruling party so far.
Taking the country back to fresh polls, on the other hand, may provide Erdoğan a second chance to establish his dream: A super presidency. The talk of the town is that after a secret meeting with some media people and top advisers at the Huber palace in Istanbul and a consequent series of meetings with political figures – including the CHP’s Deniz Baykal – the president has apparently decided to avoid the image of “troublemaker” and ordered the AKP do the same. The fact that Erdoğan is giving the image of a “fixer” rather than a troublemaker demonstrates itself how murky Turkey’s political waters have become.