Difficult choices need to be made
Is Turkey moving forward to embrace an early election within months? Will it not be possible to form a coalition government? Why the parties are so adamant in their positions? Or are the parties just consolidating their positions, like heavy weight wrestlers waiting for the start of the match that is the opening of the coalition talks?
The message of the electorate was clear: “The Justice and Development Party [AKP] must be out of government” 60 percent of the people said and voted for the opposition parties, while the AKP received support of only 40 percent. It endured a painful, more-than-nine-percentage-point depreciation in its electoral support from the previous 2011 parliamentary elections. The opposition parties must be able to put their differences in a deep freeze and for the benefit of the country, reconcile and form what Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has wisely called a restoration government.
Why a restoration government? No one should be a novice. Over the past 13 years, the AKP did not become the “state party;” it itself converted the state and all the public institutions into AKP establishments. From the state-owned broadcaster TRT to the Anadolu Agency and presumably autonomous boards to the entire bureaucracy, the entire state apparatus became subservient to the AKP and its super boss, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
On June 7, for the first time in this nation’s republican history, the ballot box was used to get rid of a majoritarian government instead of extraordinary interventions. As such, the impacts of that majoritarian government on the state and state apparatus must be eradicated as well by forging a democratic coalition dictated by the nation. Indeed, had Turkey achieved such a democratic takeover back in 1960 and did not remove the Democrat Party majoritarian government with a military coup, would not Turkey and its democracy be at a far more advanced stage today? This opportunity should not be missed by letting the AKP buy some deputies from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) or the CHP. Mind you, there is already talk that contacts were underway for the “transfer” of some 30 deputies from these two parties to the AKP. Such a move would, of course, open a very dangerous new chapter in the already strained Turkish politics.
Why has forging a coalition become so problematic? Even though the MHP has started mellowing its “definitely impossible” stance on a coalition with the AKP, indeed all parties are cool to that idea. This is mainly because of the reason explained above: The nation wanted a government without the AKP. The second reason, which is far deeper than the first one, is the super president aspirations of Erdoğan and the graft claims, if not the Kurdish process. For all opposition parties, limiting the president to constitutional limits and reopening the parliamentary graft probe against the four ministers (a process that may eventually go right to Erdoğan and his family) has become a precondition. For the MHP and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the Kurdish process, from opposite perspectives, is also a precondition. The MHP says any government it is part of should kill the Kurdish process – which it describes as Turkey’s disintegration program – while the HDP says advancing the Kurdish process is a must for it to partake in any coalition.
If the AKP “buying” some deputies will be immoral, unethical and perhaps a development that will have long-term consequences for everyone involved; if the parties are adamant in their positions and no compromise, coalition government emerges, the only option left will be to renew the elections, a power the president will acquire if no government is established within 45 days after the speakership council of the new parliament is established. On the other hand, since first-time parliamentarians (65% of the new parliament) cannot acquire lucrative full pensions before completing two years on the benches, will they sit idle and wait to go to an early election from which they might not succeed to make a comeback? What if some of these deputies forget about political allegiances and form a “new” party to support a coalition not in the cards today?
To be able to compromise is a must in politics, particularly at difficult moments like Turkey is in today.
Difficult decisions and choices must be made rather than having a “won’t budge on this or that” adamancy.