AKP talking with CHP, but acting with MHP
The talks between Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) and Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) have been going on for weeks in search of a coalition government.
According to the schedule settled by the delegations of the two parties, there are going to be three more meetings until next week when they are going to present the result to the two leaders who are expected to decide whether a partnership is possible through a one-on-one meeting.
The CHP wants a shift in government policies on education, foreign policy, the economy and the Kurdish issue, plus a new constitution to endorse the parliamentarian system. And there is the unwritten condition of President Tayyip Erdoğan staying away from daily government affairs.
That last one seems to be a major psychological issue for Davutoğlu and the AK Parti, because Erdoğan is still seen as the leader of the AK Parti despite his constitutional non-partisan status. He looked for a shift from parliamentarian to a strong presidential one through the June 7 polls but was disappointed when the AK Parti’s reduced number of votes ruled out even a single-party government, let alone a constitutional change. Acting according to the Turkish constitution, Davutoğlu keeps his position and Erdoğan keeps running the administration as if nothing has changed in the elections.
Up until recently, the only alternative for an AK Parti-CHP coalition seemed to be a repeat of the election; the constitution says that if no government is formed within 45 days (the deadline being Aug. 23) the president will be able to take the country to another election. Erdoğan would do that gladly, since he wants to try again to get a stronger mandate for his plans.
But recently there appears to be unnamed cooperation between the AK Parti and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli has been stating from June 7 on that their prime condition for coalition talks with the AK Parti would be an end to the Kurdish peace bid which was started by Erdoğan when he was the prime minister in 2012 and Erdoğan’s non-interference in government affairs, plus leaving the posh presidential palace he had moved into after being elected. Bahçeli announced earlier that any MHP members who accept an invitation from the president to come to the new palace could face disciplinary party action.
But since the rise in terrorist attacks by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the retaliation by government forces and strong statements by both Erdoğan and Davutoğlu saying that, under the circumstances, the continuation of the Kurdish bid is not possible, the ice between the AK Parti and the MHP has started to melt. Bahçeli allowed the MHP members of the Parliamentary Administrative Board to visit Erdoğan in the palace, and Erdoğan asked the parliament to lift the immunities of the MPs of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which is focused on the Kurdish problem, endorsing a statement a day before by Bahçeli who had said HDP activities should be subject to a legal probe.
The latest in the chain was a vote on July 29 about forming a parliamentary commission to research the recent wave of terrorist attacks by the PKK and the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) by the CHP. The HDP acted with the CHP. But the MHP supported the AK Parti which did not see any reason why there should be such a commission while there was an acting government, despite losing its majority in the parliament.
People in the political backstage have started to question why the AK Parti is not proposing a partnership to the MHP as they could get along well, instead of a prolonged series of talks with the CHP, which is actually not favored by the AK Parti grassroots.