There is still room for optimism in Turkey
Following a meeting that lasted four hours and twenty minutes on Aug. 10, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Republican People’s Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu decided to meet again on Aug. 13, in order to make a final decision on whether or not to form a coalition government.
If they decide not to do so, then Turkey is probably going to have another election, after the June 7 vote, when Davutoğlu’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) lost its parliamentary majority but remained the largest party in the 550-seat Turkish Parliament.
The CHP executive board fully authorized Kılıçdaroğlu on Aug. 11 for the coalition talks with a perspective of “four-year, reform-focused, high-profile, broad-based government.” The CHP thinks that such a government should be “solution-oriented” in five areas: Foreign policy, the economy, education, a new constitution, and “social peace,” an expression also used to cover the Kurdish problem.
Haluk Koç, the CHP’s spokesman and also the head of its delegation in the coalition talks, said he believed that the two parties - representing two opposing streams of Turkish politics - could bring solutions to many of the country’s problems.
Actually, Culture Minister Ömer Çelik, who headed the AK Parti delegation in the talks, said the simple fact that the two parties were able to leave historical antagonisms aside to discuss forming a coalition had to be considered a success in itself.
Of course, it would be difficult to convince people of the “success” of talking if ultimately no government is formed and Turkey has to go to a second election within six months, perhaps in November.
Davutoğlu is also consulting with his party’s executive bodies and President Tayyip Erdoğan, who is still considered the natural leader of the AK Parti despite his constitutionally non-partisan status.
Erdoğan is in favor of going to another election as soon as possible. For him, a coalition means sharing power, which he dislikes. He hopes that another election could push the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) under the 10 percent threshold to get into parliament and thus the AK Parti could regain power, despite the fact that recent polls indicate that there would be no dramatic change in results in any new election.
The key decision is on Davutoğlu’s shoulders. By establishing a coalition with the CHP he could both end the uncertainties in political life - amid resumed violence after the attacks of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and massive military raids in retaliation - and also prove his leadership qualities. Davutoğlu has an upcoming party congress to think of as well.
But what Çelik said is important: The distance covered so far by the conservative AK Parti and the social democratic CHP should not be underestimated. Going to another election seems more probable now than it did before, but there is still room for optimism about a possible “grand coalition” in Turkey.