Is a new election a must when Turkey is in flames?
Talks for a coalition government in Turkey between the Justice and Development Party (AK Parti), which lost its parliamentary majority in the June 7 election, and the Republican People’s Party (CHP) have been taking place under extraordinary circumstances.
When Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu had their first meeting on July 13, not even a month ago, Turkey did not appear to have a terrorism problem.
When Davutoğlu and Kılıçdaroğlu had their first meeting, Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan had not sealed a deal with U.S. President Barack Obama about Turkey’s full commitment to military operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), including opening up the strategically important Incirlik airbase for raids in Syria.
When Davutoğlu and Kılıçdaroğlu had their first meeting, Iran was still yet to seal its nuclear deal with the U.S. and other members of the P5+1.
The nuclear deal was signed on July 14, marking a game-changer of global proportions with immediate consequences in the greater Middle East, especially regarding the Syrian and Iraqi civil wars.
Turkey reached its own game-changer deal with the U.S.-led coalition against ISIL on July 22, which may possibly also have major consequences in the Syrian and Iraqi theaters.
Since July 20, Turkey has had a serious terrorism problem. On that day, an ISIL suicide bomber killed 31 people in Suruç, bordering Syria. Then on July 22, in another town bordering Syria, Ceylanpınar, outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants killed two policemen in their beds, effectively ending the three-year-old de facto cease-fire that had largely held amid dialogue between the PKK and Ankara.
Since then, the Turkish military has been hitting ISIL targets in Syria, but it has been hitting PKK targets in Iraq much more concertedly. Whenever the PKK hits the Turkish military, police stations, and police officers, the Turkish military launches massive air operations against them.
On Aug. 10 alone - before 6 p.m., when Davutoğlu and Kılıçdaroğlu held their second meeting in a month, after 35 hours of intense talks between delegations from the two parties - five policemen, one soldier and two attackers were killed across Turkey.
In such a domestic and regional atmosphere - without even mentioning the economic uncertainties in Turkey - the political agenda is not focused on forming a coalition government, but on the possibility of having another election, possibly a second one in six months. The speculation is that President Erdoğan’s disillusionment with the performance of the AK Parti on June 7 is pushing him to try to convince PM Davutoğlu to go to another election, hoping this time that the AK Parti will re-gain a majority, form the government, and thus continue Erdoğan’s total control over the state apparatus that he has been able to build over the last 13 years.
Under current circumstances, another election is not a must for Turkey. A broad-based coalition, based on reconciliation between the conservative AK Parti and the social democratic CHP, could be tried first. That would not only benefit peace and stability in Turkey, but also in the region.