AKP-MHP alliance to dominate Turkey’s near future

AKP-MHP alliance to dominate Turkey’s near future

It has already been a year since Turkey held parliamentary elections that allowed the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to form a majority government in parliament with nearly 50 percent of the votes following June 7 polls that obliged the parties to form a coalition government. 

The AKP increased its votes nearly 10 points in less than five months in 2015 amid a growing terrorist campaign by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). These five months constituted an important period in which Turkey moved to extraordinary conditions from ordinary ones. 

As a matter of fact, since then, Turkey has been in extraordinary conditions that brought about a bloody coup attempt with serious consequences, the dismissal of a prime minister, cross-border military operations, a declaration of a state of emergency, the revival of a debate on a presidential system as well as the possible reinstatement of capital punishment. Only under extraordinary conditions could all such developments take place in less than a year. 

Yet, there are no indications that Turkey will soon normalize. The government extended the state of emergency for another three months and issued a number of new decree laws that are irrelevant to the coup, like the one giving power to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to directly appoint university rectors. The co-mayors of Diyarbakır, Gultan Kışanak and Fırat Anlı, have been arrested with concerns that some People’s Democratic Party (HDP) lawmakers could face detentions as well. 

Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) bureaus and local officials have been subject to attacks especially in the southeast while the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) head, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, barely escaped an armed assault by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in late August. 

The political unity in the aftermath of coup attempt has been broken because of harsh accusations and strong-worded rhetoric, hurting hopes for a return to normalcy. Right after this, the kingmaker of the Turkish politics, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, surprisingly revived a debate on a shift to a presidential system by signaling support to AKP in its bid to find at least 330 votes in parliament. 

What makes this rapprochement even more interesting is that it will also make reinstating capital punishment possible at the expense of killing Turkey’s long-standing aspirations to join the European Union.

 For worse, such a move would also isolate Turkey form contemporary global and universal values. 

To top it all, more pressure has been imposed on independent and dissident media as the editor-in-chief and prominent writers of daily Cumhuriyet were detained only a day after additional 15 news outlets were shut down through a decree law. The deterioration of freedom of expression has come to another level with these moves coming just a week before the release of a Progress Report by the European Commission. 

A year after the Nov. 1, 2015 elections, some public opinion surveys indicate that the votes of both the AKP and MHP are on the rise while the CHP and the HDP have lost a significant amount of votes. Surveys suggest the AKP would get 53 or 54 percent if polls would take place this Sunday, with the MHP increasing its vote from 12 to 14 percent. The CHP is around 22 percent, three points less than a year ago while the HDP is seen around 8 percent, two points below the national threshold.  

The sum of AKP-MHP votes is seemingly around 65 percent, which could suffice for the approval of a referendum that would likely be introduced next spring. It’s obvious that reinforced nationalist and conservative politics will dominate Turkey in the near future at the expense of distancing Turkey from normalcy.