Turkish business community’s choice is a coalition after election

Turkish business community’s choice is a coalition after election

“We miss you,” said Turkish Industry and Business Association (TUSİAD) head Cansen Başaran-Symes, addressing board member Memduh Boydak as they were about to start TÜSİAD’s Higher Consultative Board meetings in Istanbul on Sept. 17. 

Boydak, the CEO of Boydak Holding, was still under police detention as part of a probe in Kayseri where its headquarters are located. The probe was about possible links between the Boydak group and Melikşah University, which it supports, with followers of Fethullah Gülen, an Islamist scholar living in the U.S. Once a close ally of President Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AK Parti), Gülen is now regarded as an arch enemy.

Başaran-Symes said in her speech that the Turkish business community is fed up with pressure on them, and also mentioned the mounting pressure on the media in the country.

“The first thing we would expect from the government,” she said, “would be to at least take us to the Nov. 1 election in peace.” 

With the expectations of the business community minimized to the level of simply demanding an election in peace, there is something else that bosses seek after the Nov. 1 vote. 

Generally, Turkish bosses’ choice for after the election is a coalition government, despite President Erdoğan’s statements that a single-party government would be the best for economic and political stability. In saying this, he gives the example of the last 13 years under the AK Parti.

Başaran-Symes elaborated on why TUSİAD had supported the formation of a coalition government between the AK Parti and the social democratic Republican People’s Party (CHP) after the June 7 election, when the AK Parti lost its parliamentary majority. She said that if a “strong coalition” could have been established, TÜSİAD believed the “democracy problems that Turkey is facing today,” which are also “affecting the economic situation,” could be solved. 

The TÜSİAD chairwoman added that a new and democratic constitution should be on the agenda after the Nov. 1 elections, “whether it is a single-party or a coalition government.” But what she actually meant on behalf of the top business community was clear. 

It is not yet clear whether the AK Parti will be able to regain its parliamentary majority, let alone the constitutional majority that Erdoğan wants in order to shift to a presidential system. If the AK Parti regains the government majority in parliament on Nov. 1, all it will likely be able to provide to Erdoğan would be additional de facto powers, not through a constitutional change. No other parties in the parliament approve of strong presidential powers for Erdoğan through a constitutional change. Therefore, the most likely solution for a new more democratic constitution would be via an AK Parti-led coalition, most probably with the CHP, since the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) does not want a new constitution and the AK Parti does not want to form a coalition with the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

But let’s be more clear beyond all those deductions: During the reception given by TÜSİAD on the evening of Sept. 16 in Istanbul, one of the biggest bosses in Turkey told me and a few other journalists, on condition of anonymity, that after their experience over the last few years, they thought the best for Turkey would be a reconciliatory coalition. His words got approving nods from two other top bosses present.