Chances getting high for a grand coalition in Turkey

Chances getting high for a grand coalition in Turkey

As the new Turkish parliament convenes on June 23, the chances are getting high for the formation of a grand coalition in Turkey, since no party gained the necessary majority to form a single party government in the June 7 election.

It is going to be clear when the official talks for a coalition begin next week, but if the ongoing backchannel talks succeed, a coalition between the incumbent Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) and the Republican People’s Party (CHP) could be possible by the end of next week as well. The Islamic-conservative AK Parti represents more than 40 percent of the votes while the social democratic CHP represents 25 percent. This also means a chance to write a brand new, democratic constitution for Turkey with a clear majority.

Parliament was opened yesterday by Deniz Baykal, the former chairman of the CHP, as the most senior member of parliament, a Turkish tradition. Due to the same tradition, the secretary consisted of the youngest members for the opening session, among which was Dilek Öcalan, a newly elected MP from the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) list, who is the nephew of the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). This parliament is likely to be a colorful one. And Baykal could stay in that chair for some time, despite the fact the speaker is usually elected from within the leading party, which in this case is the AK Parti.

The coalition talks are likely to be closely connected to the election of the new parliament speaker, following a move by President Tayyip Erdoğan, who said over the weekend that he would give the mandate to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu after the election of the speaker.

According to speculation in the backstage of Ankara politics, if the AK Parti and the CHP come to terms through backchannel talks, it is possible CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu will announce Baykal as their candidate for the speaker and the AK Parti will not object, as a sort of a compensation for turning down Kılıçdaroğlu’s proposal to rotate prime ministers between the coalition partners.

Those scenarios are not easy to fulfil and the possibility for the AK Parti to have a coalition with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is still not off the table. But since Devlet Bahçeli of the MHP has talked about going to an early election in November, the second one in six months, the business community has been saying a snap election should be avoided. Nail Olpak, the head of the Independent Industry and Business Association (MÜSİAD), close to the government, has openly said they’d prefer a long-term government and that could be between the AK Parti and the CHP.

Following a long, thirteen-year period of dominating AK Parti rule, the Turkish parliament is on an expedition to rediscover the culture of reconciliation. If that can be found soon, it would not only be good for the Turkish economy but also for the entire region, since it will have a (possibly positive) impact on Turkish foreign policy, especially in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean.