From grapes in Iran to coalition options
A modest villager in one of the villages of the Aegean province of Manisa was asked by an expert, “What will the price of grapes be this year?” He responded, “That first depends on the harvest of grapes in Iran, then on the price of the dollar.” The expert’s eyes popped at the villager’s knowledge and awareness of global developments.
Who will form a coalition with whom? The academics, journalists and executives of political parties have been discussing this about 80 times a day. Whereas, none of the parties ever ask themselves, “Let me ask what my grassroots think?” Isn’t this strange?
Only the Justice and Development Party (AKP) convened its provincial heads; the others proceeded with messages from the top.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is new. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) does not have such a tradition. The Republican People’s Party (CHP), though, has examples in the past. İsmet Pasha had convened a party congress to discuss the law for cooperatives, which he had hesitations about.
Today, the crucial decision to form a coalition is made by three to five people, even though the power belongs to the Party Assembly.
Moreover, there is no talk of what lessons the CHP has drawn from the elections for the moment. What lessons were drawn from the local elections last year, nobody knows. During the Party Assembly, five to 10 people take the floor and speak.
For years, the CHP has not existed in the Black Sea or in central, southeastern or eastern Anatolia. There were no CHP deputies elected in these elections from 37 provinces. In certain provinces the vote is at 1 percent or 2 percent. Is there anybody researching the reasons why or how to overcome this? No, there is not. It is absolutely flying blind and it looks as if it will be the same for a coalition.
Won’t it be correct to get the opinion of the grassroots in a country where villagers know how the price of grapes is formulated?
Example of a minority government
The famous January 24 decisions made in 1980 brought a major transformation to capitalism in Turkey; they were the most radical, sharpest economic decisions in the history of the republic. Those decisions were made by the minority government of the Justice Party (AP) led by Süleyman Demirel, supported by the National Salvation Party (MSP) and the MHP.
While coalition options are discussed, it is said that Tayyip Erdoğan is against a minority government. Well, the example of January 24 is there: Even a minority government can make decisions that would change the system all together, if that is the hesitation.
More importantly, it is not the president who decides whether it will be a minority or a majority, it is the parliament. Governments receive their vote of confidence from the parliament, not from the president.
The small partner
They claim the small partner in the coalition loses. This is not always true; the most striking example is the FDP, the German Free Democratic Party.
The FDP for years entered the government as a small partner of the coalition, both with social democrats and conservatives. Between 1949 and 2013, for 35 of those 64 years it was always the small partner, but in the government more than the other parties. This is an example that weakens the “small partner loses” argument.