AKP has started healing its wounds

AKP has started healing its wounds

A last-day move of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli put an end to the last hopes for joint action by opposition parties, leading to İsmet Yılmaz, the incumbent defense minister of the outgoing Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) government, winning the Speaker of Parliament election on July 1.

Deniz Baykal, the former chairman of the social democratic Republican People’s Party (CHP) failed to get close to Yılmaz, despite receiving some support from the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

The result was the first test for Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu after losing the majority in parliament to establish a single-party government in the June 7 election.

In a way, the AK Parti has started to heal its election wounds with this result, boosting its morale before the start of formal coalition talks next week.

Strong arguments between the parties throughout the speaker election process eliminated many scenarios for possible coalition combinations, including a CHP-led one with the MHP and outside support from the HDP.

It is now clear that just two coalition options are acknowledged by all parties: The AK Parti leading a government with either the CHP or the MHP. If this cannot happen, the only remaining option would be to repeat the election, probably in November.

But after his first win since the June 7 election, Prime Minister Davutoğlu wants now to focus on forming a coalition government in order to keep up the momentum. If he succeeds in forming a coalition, he would be able to go to the AK Parti congress in late August with confidence.

AK Parti spokespeople say their grassroots prefer a coalition with the MHP. But Bahçeli’s prime condition of ending the Kurdish peace process, which was initiated by President Tayyip Erdoğan when he was prime minister, could make that difficult.

An AK Parti-CHP “grand coalition” is the preference of the business community, amid hopes that it would last longer, be beneficial for the economy, and could bring about a new constitution for Turkey.

In his first message to parliament, the new Parliament Speaker İsmet Yılmaz said the first duty of his parliament should be to write a new constitution with clearly defined separation of powers. That might sound like music to CHP ears. But the CHP may need time to overcome the trauma of the defeat in the speaker election and disillusionment about the closure of doors of cooperation by the MHP.