The AKP’s nightmare: Going to elections with the HDP

The AKP’s nightmare: Going to elections with the HDP

Be careful what you wish for, in politics too; things may not go as planned.

Because he was deeply disappointed with the result of the June 7 election, President Tayyip Erdoğan had in his mind to try his chance once again through a reelection, which had never experienced before, though the constitution enabled it. If no government could be established within 45 days after a mandate was given to an MP to form the government, the president would gain the power to declare a reelection.

At first he reduced the problem into a single-parameter equation. The Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) had lost its majority and he was about to lose the chance to exercise extent executive powers as if Turkey had shifted to a strong presidential system from the existing parliamentarian one because of the same reason. The Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) had exceeded the 10 percent threshold and gotten into parliament with an unexpectedly successful presence, mainly by carving out from the AK Parti’s Kurdish vote base. If in a reelection the HDP could be pushed below the threshold, the AK Parti could regain its power.

The dialogue with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which had been initiated by Erdoğan (and facilitated by the HDP) back in 2012, has been “put in the refrigerator” by Erdoğan. When the PKK resumed its attacks and began killing members of the military and police officers, blocking state roads, burning public vehicles and storming towns, it gave the government grounds for massive military and police operations against PKK bases in Turkey and Iraq. Both Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu denounced the HDP as the “political extension of the separatist terrorist organization,” implying the PKK.

Erdoğan used his time skillfully and effectively in the direction of having the election repeated. At one point, when PM Davutoğlu started to give positive signals about getting into a coalition with Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Erdoğan warned him publicly that a “coalition by giving concession from principles could mean committing suicide.” A few times he said he did not believe a coalition would solve the country’s problems. The talks with the CHP failed six days before the deadline on Aug. 23. 

Denying insistent demands by Kılıçdaroğlu that he wanted to try his chance to form a government, Erdoğan hinted last week, even before the expiration of the deadline, he was going to declare a reelection for Nov. 1 and asked Davutoğlu again to form an election government.

Actually that was not Erdoğan’s Plan A; his first choice would be Davutoğlu forcing an “early election” government in parliament, not a reelection one. Because in the president-declared reelection government MPs from all parties in parliament should be represented and Erdoğan did not want a government, even for two months, in which the HDP would also be represented.

But what has happened is worse for Erdoğan and Davutoğlu now. Because both the CHP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) refused to give members to a reelection government, the AK Parti might end up with only HDP members, plus independent names.

Davutoğlu made a last minute move by saying he would propose some CHP and MHP deputies to ministries without taking the consent of their parties, which was denounced by both parties as an “indecent proposal” yesterday. It is not hard to guess that any names from the CHP or the MHP who would accept that proposal could be ousted from the party and could not find a place in the candidate lists in the reelection.

Oktay Vural, a spokesperson for the MHP, hinted one of their election slogans yesterday by addressing the AK Parti as “You denied our terms for a coalition and are now having one with the HDP.”

Davutoğlu may have troubles explaining that to his voters in the reelection campaign as well.