AKP and MHP may cooperate in elections too

AKP and MHP may cooperate in elections too

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) may cooperate in the next parliamentary elections, a key political figure who asked not to be named has told the Hürriyet Daily News. Such an agreement would be similar to their cooperation forged in the April 16 referendum for a constitutional shift to an executive presidential system, and the same source also said officials from the two parties spoke about such a possibility during their first contact for the referendum campaign.

It was not possible to get an official confirmation from either of the parties for such a project. The next parliamentary elections are not scheduled to take place until November 2019 anyway. 

Turkish election law does not allow election alliances between parties, but that never stopped parties from engaging in election cooperation in the past. In the 1991 elections, in order to get over the 10 percent national threshold, candidates from the Nationalist Labor Party (MÇP), a predecessor of the MHP, entered elections on the Islamic-conservative Welfare Party (RP) ticket. After taking their oaths in parliament the MÇP members resigned from the RP and set up a separate MÇP group in parliament after taking their oaths. 

Similarly, also in the 1991 election candidates from the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Labor Party (HEP), the predecessor of today’s Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), entered the election on the Social Democratic Populist Party (SHP) ticket. They also resigned and set up their own parliamentary group after getting over the 10 percent threshold.

In the next election the MHP – riven by internal problems - faces the possibility of dropping below the 10 percent threshold. The MHP won around 12 percent of the votes in the most recent November 2015 election. Of course, the AK Parti majority in parliament could pass a change in the legislation to reduce the election threshold, and there have been statements from both President Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım in that direction before. However, MHP head Devlet Bahçeli is not in favor of this, as he is not in favor of the HDP entering parliament. The HDP got 10.8 percent in November 2015. 

Something else to consider is that securing power is not only just the MHP’s problem; since the April referendum, it is also the AK Parti’s problem. According to the new constitution, which formally links the president to a political party, securing governmental power means getting at least 50 percent plus 1 vote. 

Entering elections together with the MHP and allocating deputy candidacies as if the MHP would get at least 10 percent of the votes, (around 60 seats in the 600-seat parliament in the next elections), could almost guarantee that the AK Parti will secure that 50 percent. So it could be a win-win situation for a possible AK Parti-MHP partnership.

It may be too early to talk about election scenarios, as we still have more than two years before the next scheduled parliamentary elections. But it is at least worth noting that such scenarios are already being talked about in the political backstage.