Great Expectations

Great Expectations

Turkish politics is an incredibly fun and surprising game for outsiders to read. You can start the day with “Great Expectations” yet end it with “Pride and Prejudice.” One can never fail to be amazed at how easily alliances can shift. In this, we are back to square one in the coalition talks.

As soon as the parliamentary speaker election results came out, a message blinked on my cell. It was coming from a very respected pollster who has been insisting on a possible Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) coalition despite all the popular singing about a “Grand Coalition.” 

“Early elections,” he wrote. “This time it looks inevitable.” 

He was right because for many who have worked with the AK Party, it would be a colossal mistake to form a coalition with the Republican People’s Party (CHP), as it is not ready to take over the bureaucracy.

Turkey has been run by right-wing parties or coalitions for more than 50 years. Turkey’s experience with left or center-left coalitions have been limited to months, or at best 1.5 years. So not only for the voter, but also for the state bureaucracy, anything that has “left” in it calls for an allergic reaction.

The MHP is no stranger to political maneuvering. The CHP’s top brass was either too fascinated by the possibility of red license plates or was too naive to think that the AK Party could actually come and make an offer as a partner. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu still has the upper hand in the game, and may easily invite the leading opposition party as a partner. But with Davutoglu’s conditions attached, and a possible early election looming on the horizon, should the CHP take it?

Let us make certain things clear. The so-called “Grand Coalition” operates according to completely different parameters compared to Turkish politics. Always referring to the German politics, I am afraid my columnist colleagues are making a massive mistake. At the end of the day, it comes down to the leader. And Angela Merkel is no Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. And Erdoğan wants another election. If not another one. And another one. Until he is fully satisfied. 

Point number two: Since June 8, there is only one person that has a game plan. His name is Erdoğan. He can still deny the odds, challenge the world establishment and get his numbers right. According to my sources, after the CHP’s Deniz Baykal, Erdoğan met with a person from the MHP and he brought a message from international circles that an AKP-CHP coalition would be the best for the international posture of the country. Erdoğan took the message and decided not to go with it.

He did not turn this into a “Pride and Prejudice” game, although in the end, it will turn out like that. Erdoğan believes, with a new AK Party, it would be foolish to leave critical posts in the bureaucracy and ministries to the CHP. After all, they have been away from the state apparatus for more than three decades. To get them acquainted and oriented would take at least six months, during which time you could easily head to another election. So why waste it, if you can protect it?

Prime Minister Davutoğlu, with this early victory, can heal the wounds of the election results and get back into the game. For the most critical issue, a possible Syrian incursion, he has an ally like MHP leader Devlet Bahceli who can support a new parliamentary mandate. So why deal with the CHP to convince them? He gets what he wants as well. 

The big question remains: What does the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) read out of this? “War and Peace?”