Can Davutoğlu bypass Erdoğan to form a coalition?

Can Davutoğlu bypass Erdoğan to form a coalition?

As chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti), Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is likely to ask two questions to both Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Devlet Bahçeli of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) when he starts tours to form a new government.

1. Can you give outside support to an AK Parti minority government?

2. What are your conditions to be an AK Parti coalition partner?

According to the words in the political backstage of Ankara, Davutoğlu is not likely to ask the second question to Selahattin Demirtaş of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) when and if he meets him for the government tours. The current thought within the AK Parti is having the HDP as a coalition partner could further erode its votes.

The feelings are reciprocal in a sense; Demirtaş declared once again on June 9 that the HDP would not give any support for any AK Parti formula for government. Yet, he left the doors open to give outside support for other combinations.

We will come to those combinations, but first we have to go through the possible CHP and MHP answers if Davutoğlu asks those two questions.

Both Kılıçdaroğlu and Bahçeli are likely to rule out any outside support to a minority AK Parti government, which could indeed kill them in the next elections; both leaders have bashed Erdoğan, Davutoğlu and the AK Parti of being up to their necks in corruption and misconduct during their election campaigns and promised to straighten that up.

It is possible to conclude from the statements so far by both the CHP and MHP that they could ask whether they would form a coalition with Davutoğlu or with Erdoğan, if the president wants to have control over government affairs as if nothing has changed in the June 7 elections from the single-party AK Parti government.

The stories in a number of pro-government, or, rather, pro-Erdoğan press, on May 9 suggested that Erdoğan’s legitimacy should not be questioned. On the other hand, both the CHP and MHP say that they would not question Erdoğan’s presidency as long as he would remain within his constitutional limits. 

The MHP has an additional condition: Ending the Kurdish peace process, which could make life more difficult for Davutoğlu, as both Erdoğan and Davutoğlu have promised during the election campaign that they would keep up with it.

An AK Parti-CHP coalition, on the other hand, could relax the tension in the economy, plus provide a new constitution which could also bring a moderate solution to Kurdish problem. But that compromise means not only an end of Erdoğan’s control over government affairs, but also a farewell to Erdoğan’s goal of a strong presidential system.

Will Davutoğlu be able to overcome that problem, in a way to bypass Erdoğan, pass his political test and form his own government? That is the question of Turkish politics now.

That is why Erdoğan is reportedly looking for ways to go to an immediate early election, to try his chances once again. Because if Erdoğan acts according to the constitution and gives the office to Kılıçdaroğlu to try his chance if Davutoğlu fails, it is possible, at least on paper, that the CHP could form a minority government with outside support of the MHP and HDP. That would be no good news for the corruption and misconduct files dropped one by one during the AK parti governments and surely not for Erdoğan’s authority; old school AK Parti people have been warning Davutoğlu about that for days now.

But let’s not go that far and see what Davutoğlu will do when he begins his government tours.