The condition for an AKP-CHP coalition

The condition for an AKP-CHP coalition

The day after Turkey’s June 7 general election showed that there is a problem within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) about who should be held responsible for the vote erosion that led to it losing its parliamentary majority.

It seems that many party officials are gathering around Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, against possible moves by the close circle of aides, advisors, business and media personalities around President Tayyip Erdoğan to blame Davutoğlu, thus saving Erdoğan from all possible accusations.

In his written statement issued on June 8, Erdoğan called on “all parties” to draw lessons from the election results and act “responsibly” - as a president should do. He was apparently trying to reposition himself to place himself at equal distance from all parties, as if he had not been campaigning for the AK Parti for the last few months despite his constitutionally non-partisan role. 

Turkish voters did indeed deliver important messages to the AK Parti and President Erdoğan on June 7: 

1- A majority of voters in Turkey do not want a strong presidential system, which Erdoğan has been campaigning for almost a year. The AK Parti has anyway lost its majority in parliament and it is not able to reach the necessary power to force any constitutional amendment for the system change.

2- A majority of voters said they wanted AK Parti rule to be balanced by a stronger opposition in parliament, since despite the AK Parti-supported 10 percent threshold the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was able to enter parliament, significantly changing political balances.

3- Voters told the AK Parti and all other parties to talk to each other for better political solutions, as no party is able to form a government on its own.

According to Turkey’s constitution, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who has lost the majority in parliament, should submit his resignation to President Erdoğan. However, again according to the constitution, Erdoğan must ask him, as the winner of the highest number of seats in parliament, to try to form a government. Davutoğlu then will have to start contacts with other parties - either to find outside support for a minority government or a coalition partner.

All three other parties, the HDP, the social democratic Republican People’s Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), have already made their opening positions clear. All have said they do not want to join a coalition with the AK Parti. MHP head Devlet Bahçeli went as far as to say the HDP should join a coalition with the AK Parti, as they have a common denominator in the Kurdish bid. He also suggested that the CHP could join them, as the CHP had no objection in principle to the Kurdish bid.

In the complicated language of Turkish politics, Bahçeli also implied that if Erdoğan does not interfere in government affairs and Davutoğlu puts an end to the Kurdish peace process, the MHP could consider coalition possibilities with the AK Parti.

The choice of business circles, meanwhile, would be a grand coalition between the AK Parti and the CHP, which could bring about a new constitution including a reasonable solution to the Kurdish problem. However, such a solution would almost certainly rule out any possibility of a shift to a presidential system as Erdoğan desires, on the contrary endorsing the existing parliamentary one with better checks and balances.

That could give Davutoğlu a golden opportunity to secure autonomy from Erdoğan and prove himself as a political leader.

Under those circumstances, and in addition to the coalition protocol, the CHP could ask for one big condition from Davutoğlu, or a public declaration from both Erdoğan and Davutoğlu affirming Erdoğan’s non-interference in government affairs.

One might ask about the dropped corruption files against the four ex-ministers of the AK Parti. The CHP plans to bring those to the parliamentary floor anyway after the forming of any government - with or without the CHP - as there will no longer be any AK Parti majority to block them.