Trust issues between Turkish parties hamper coalition formation

Trust issues between Turkish parties hamper coalition formation

Turkish voters did not allow any of the four parties in the next parliament to form a government on its own in the June 7 elections, but deep trust issues between the parties do not immediately allow for very easy solutions to a possible coalition.

A survey carried out by Ipsos for CNN Turk after the elections showed that the highest probability (nearly 48 percent) for a government was a coalition between the Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

The survey’s next probable coalition was between the Republican People’s Party (CHP), MHP and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) with 32 percent, followed by an AK Parti-CHP coalition with 23 percent and an AK Parti-HDP one with 21 percent.

But a quick examination of parties’ positions makes it clear that none of those scenarios are easy and some are almost impossible.

For example, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s AK Parti, which lost its parliament majority through the elections, simply rules out a coalition with the HDP.

Davutoğlu’s first choice is actually the MHP. But the MHP has conditions. Its leader Devlet Bahçeli sees President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as the real loser of the elections, since Bahçeli has put his credibility forward during the elections and  does not want Erdoğan to get involved in government politics in any way. He also asks Davutoğlu to immediately stop the Kurdish peace process, which could force him a lot.

On the other hand, the HDP, which has been mediating the talks between the Davutoğlu government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) both with its imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan and military headquarters in Iraq’s Kandil Mountains, asks Davutoğlu - or any possible government - to resume the talks immediately. 

The HDP co-chairman Selahattin Demirtaş made it clear that they would not be a part of any coalition but could give outside support to non-AK Parti formulas.

A coalition with the MHP is the CHP’s first option as well. But they do not sum up to 276 deputies, the number necessary for a vote of confidence. But the MHP reject outright the idea of being in the same coalition with the HDP, or even in a coalition with the CHP if it could survive with the outside support of the HDP.

According to reports, during a meeting of the AK Parti executive body on June 7, an assessment was made that the AK Parti could work in better harmony with the MHP in a coalition but could better produce solutions to Turkey’s problems with the CHP, a typical hearts or minds problem.

The CHP, on the other hand, do not want to share the government with the AK Parti, which they have been accusing of corruption and misconduct for the last 13 years; they need to have some sort of guarantee about the re-opening of certain corruption files, such as those belonging to the four ex-ministers who were forced to resign by Erdoğan late 2013, in order to explain it to AKP’s grassroots.  The CHP is also absolutely against Erdoğan’s interference in politics. That is why Erdoğan’s move to get into contact with CHP’s former leader Deniz Baykal did not make Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, its current leader, very happy; on the contrary, it triggered a debate within the party, as the move was seen as something making Erdoğan’s involvement a legitimate one.

Despite a clear message by Davutoğlu on June 10, acknowledging that the voters have refused a shift to a presidential system and Turkey must keep moving with the current system, Erdoğan in his first public speech on June 11 after the elections made remarks on the current political situation and coalition talks.

“It is not impossible to get into a coalition with them,” a CHP source who asked not to be named. “But we do not trust them, even if everything is written down in a protocol. They have cheated us before on many occasions.”

But Davutoğlu’s need to also stay in government to keep his party chair in the August congress and be a part of the government could work the same way for Kılıçdaroğlu, who could not reach his elections targets. This is a factor that could empower the logical solution versus the sentimental one. Yet again, it seems it is not going to be very easy.