Slight relief in AKP’s distress over HDP

Slight relief in AKP’s distress over HDP

If Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan’s intention in his address yesterday was to make the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) angry and decide not to join the “temporary” election government of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, it did not work.

If his intention in asking the other two opposition parties, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), to behave like a man and join Davutoğlu’s Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) election government, it did not work either.

And if Davutoğlu’s intention was to give a message to whom it may concern by picking up three names from the HDP who are not of Kurdish origin and try to look sympathetic to the MHP, it did not work either.

But if Davutoğlu thought that by picking up key names from the CHP and the MHP, like Deniz Baykal, the former leader of the CHP, Gülsün Bilgehan, the grandson of Independence War hero İsmet İnönü, or Tuğrul Türkeş, the son of MHP founding leader Alparslan Türkeş, he could soften the hearts of rivals, it could be said that it partly worked.

Kenan Tanrıkulu, a deputy chairman of the MHP, not only put down the offer but also resigned from his party post, saying that the proposal by Davutoğlu was a humiliation for him. But Türkeş accepted it.

Both Erdoğan’s anger and Davutoğlu’s desperate moves boil down to the growing distress within the AK Parti because of going to reelections only with the HDP (along with “independents” and technocrats, as the constitution dictates); it was their worst case scenario, even a nightmare scenario. 

Holding the HDP’s success in the June 7 election responsible for the AK Parti’s failure in losing its parliamentary majority by carving out Kurdish votes, Erdoğan has adopted a hawkish position against the HDP. When the acts of terror by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) resumed after the election gave a reason for the government to carry out massive military and police operations, Erdoğan started to denounce the HDP as the “political extension of the separatist terrorist organization.”

It is not likely Davutoğlu would give key ministries to HDP names, especially those having seats in the National Security Board (MGK). But it will be this government which has to decide whether to ask the parliament to extend its permission to the government to order reciprocal military operations against Syria when necessary for another year (it currently expires on Oct. 2). It will also be this government to prepare the 2016 budget if the formation of a government will again be a long one after the Nov. 1 election. Those and similar moves will need the signatures of the HDP ministers.

Erdoğan said yesterday that Turkey used to be a “stable” country with no coalition governments for the last thirteen years; those were the years under AK Parti rule. He asked people to “vote for stability” again on Nov. 1, which also means that he could exercise extensive presidential powers which he could not during a coalition. That’s why Türkeş joining the government could be a condolence prize for Davutoğlu, as an indication of a crack in the opposition front.