Erdoğan to meet four leaders in new parliament after surprise meet with CHP’s Baykal
DHA PhotoIn yet another move contrary to state customs, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said he plans to hold separate meetings with leaders of the four parties that entered parliament in the June 7 election before granting the mandate to form a new government to the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which won around 41 percent of the vote but failed to secure the parliamentary majority required to rule alone.
“I would like to invite them separately and get their opinion about the process,” Erdoğan told a group of journalists en route from Baku to Istanbul on June 13, after attending the opening ceremony of the first European Games in the Azerbaijani capital.
“I may begin these meetings before the deputies are sworn in at parliament, so I could invite them in the coming week,” he added, while speaking to journalists including Hürriyet daily columnist Vahap Munyar.
The newly elected members of the 25th term of parliament of the Republic of Turkey will gather on the fifth day after the announcement of the final election results by the Supreme Election Board (YSK) and the oath-taking ceremony will take place at first sitting, which is expected to convene on June 23 or 24.
Erdoğan’s intention to meet the four leaders before giving a mandate to one of them is not a traditional practice. Likewise, his initiative to hold a meeting with the former leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Deniz Baykal, was also a surprise to many as it was not a usual practice. The meeting led to speculation that the president was involved in plans to help form a coalition between the AKP and the CHP, the top two parties in the election, after the former lost its parliamentary majority.
When he met with Baykal on June 10, Erdoğan was yet to speak in public about the results. As the oldest deputy in parliament, Baykal will lead its first session after the election and he was officially meeting Erdoğan to discuss the reopening. However, according to what Baykal told reporters after the meeting, coalition alternatives also came onto the agenda.
At the time, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who was informed of the meeting beforehand and briefed by Baykal afterward, remained silent regarding the process that led to the holding of such meeting.
However, the negative reactions from both the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were quite clear.
“This kind of meeting is not common in our politics and has not taken place many times before. Those who need to meet are the party leaders. We do not know the content of the meeting but we found it strange. We believe it was not appropriate,” MHP Deputy Chair Semih Yalçın said.
HDP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair İdris Baluken also underlined the uncustomary nature of the meeting, suggesting that it was actually aimed at laying the ground for a so-called “grand coalition” between the AKP and the CHP.
“The meeting, which took almost two-and-a-half hour, itself is against the constitution,” Baluken said. Recalling how Baykal, soon after the meeting, told reporters that he would inform Kılıçdaroğlu of the content of the meeting, Baluken said it showed that Baykal acted as “a mediator.” He dubbed the meeting as “a very big political mistake.”
From the moment he was elected president in August 2014, the first time a president has been elected by direct vote in Turkey, Erdoğan has repeatedly vowed not to act as an “ordinary president.”
“For the first time, the president has been elected by the people, therefore a new custom has emerged. The ‘New Turkey’ will have new customs. It will be us who will shape these new customs and we will go on with these customs. We will reach our 2023 target this way,” he was quoted as saying recently.
Early election ‘inevitable’ if no coalition formed within deadline
He has also touched on the possibility of an early election.
“As a requirement of my political responsibilities, I would first give the mandate to the leader of the political party that got the highest vote. Then we will all together see the developments. If he cannot form it, then, again as a requirement of my political morale, I would this time give the mandate to the leader of the party that got the second highest number of vote. As you know, there is 45-day process. God willing, it won’t extend beyond this,” Erdoğan said.
Turkey’s 63rd government must be formed within 45 days of the mandate being formally given, which pushes the AKP leader and incumbent Prime Minister Ahmet 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.
“Not having let any party to come to power on its own, the ballot box has indicated a coalition,” Erdoğan said.
“If everything takes place in its natural course and a coalition is formed then there would be no problem,” he replied, when asked whether any “surprise” could be expected throughout these 45 days.
“But if the party that came first in the election cannot achieve [forming a government] and neither can the second one ... then going to the ballot box again as per the constitution would be inevitable. I don’t call this a snap election, but a re-run,” he added.