A second election in six months?
Talks between Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) and Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) over the possibility of a “Grand Coalition” government in Turkey failed on Aug. 13 after a one-and-a-half hour meeting in Ankara.
It is clear from the statements by both leaders after the collapse of the coalition talks that the main difference was about the nature of the government in the minds of the leaders. Kılıçdaroğlu was looking for a “reformist” government with a four-year perspective, but Davutoğlu suggested a partnership for a three-month “election” coalition. Also, there were “deep differences in opinion” on foreign and education policies.
That move has put another election on Turkey’s political agenda, after the one on June 7 failed to produce a government. The 45-day constitutional deadline will be over on Aug. 23, after which President Tayyip Erdoğan has the power to announce a renewal of the election. If that is the case, it is likely there is going to be another election in November, the second one in six months.
That result might be something President Tayyip Erdoğan has been looking for from day one. When the ruling AK Parti lost its parliamentary majority in the June 7 election, it also meant Erdoğan’s full control over the entire state apparatus thanks the AK Parti majority was in jeopardy, because his exercise of power beyond the constitutional definition could not be possible while the AK Parti was sharing power with another party. That is why Erdoğan has been encouraging Davutoğlu to go to another election, hoping that this time the voters would realize the mistake they had made and turn to the AK Parti once again, giving them the majority which would also let Erdoğan use all executive powers de facto, despite no constitutional change.
It was hard for the CHP to sit and talk to the AK Parti, since the CHP election campaign had been based on “Send them away with your votes,” attacking the AK Parti because of its “misconduct and corruption for 13 years” in power. The CHP executive bodies authorized Kılıçdaroğlu to seal a deal with Davutoğlu on the basis of a long-term reformist partnership, which was not the thought in Davutoğlu’s mind.
Davutoğlu said yesterday that a new election is left as the only option ahead on Turkey’s agenda. He said this should not be seen as a “negative” development, despite the Turkish Lira plunging against the U.S. dollar just minutes after the news hit the wires that the coalition talks have failed.
It is clear now that while the June 7 election had caused the ruling AK Parti to lose its majority in parliament, it did cause President Tayyip Erdoğan to lose control over the political agenda in the country; he favored another election to try his chance once again and the country is going to another one.
What will happen if that second election does not give the AK Parti the power to establish its own government, as almost all polls have indicated, is now the question. Will Erdoğan push for another election and will Davutoğlu, who is going to have a party congress soon, act accordingly?