Is a 'grand coalition' probable?

Is a 'grand coalition' probable?

How probable is it to establish a grand coalition of the two biggest parties, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Republican People’s Party (CHP), in Turkey? The business and industrial communities of the country as well as the international investors want it. Is such a coalition government attainable and sustainable? Was Deniz Baykal’s nomination by the CHP for the speakership of parliament a sign of the coming grand coalition?

The statement of CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu that he “personally” considers the probability of such a government “very low” might be interpreted as a cold shower for those aspiring to see a strong grand coalition, (like the one which has become almost a tradition in Germany) capable of delivering remedies to many of the country’s very challenging problems. Yet, the same answer might be considered as an effort by the CHP leader to remain uncommitted and enter coalition bargain with a stronger hand.

Obviously, there was a strong message in Baykal’s nomination by the CHP for parliament speaker. What was the message? Was it an indication of the coming coalition? On the contrary, “the 60 percent opposition block can undertake anything together” message Kılıçdaroğlu has been delivering right from the moment the June 7 election results were received was indeed transformed to action with Baykal’s candidacy. Baykal is a politician who can receive votes from all three opposition parties. And, technically, the united parliamentary strength of the three parties is more than enough to elevate – if not in the first two rounds - in the third round, when the contest will be only between the two candidates who received the highest vote in the second round, the veteran politician to that prestigious number two seat of the Turkish state.

Thus, Baykal’s candidacy and probable election will not herald the coming grand coalition but rather demonstrate the AKP’s fragility, particularly if the opposition manages to remain together and reintroduce the parliamentary graft probe against the four former ministers. That will be a process in which even the president and his son might face some very serious consequences. So far, for the opposition parties’ probing graft and other wrongdoing allegations, apart from the Kurdish process, have figured high into objections of a coalition with the AKP. The probability of opposition parties undertaking allied action might defuse concerns handicapping any coalition formula that included the AKP.

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has been categorically against a coalition with the AKP if such a deal might cripple its demand for re-probing graft and an end to the Kurdish process, which is described by the nationalists as a “dissolution process.” The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), on the other hand, is primarily focused on continuation and acceleration of the process. But it also demands the graft probe be reopened. If opening graft probe becomes an issue unrelated to coalition talks, a coalition with the AKP might become something worthy of consideration for both the MHP and the CHP, with the MHP still appearing more likely to enter into any such venture. For the HDP, however, a coalition with the AKP might save the Kurdish process but might become a very costly political venture for the AKP. Such a coalition will further aggravate polarization and only help the MHP and CHP become stronger.

Would the AKP prefer to have a coalition with the MHP or the CHP? If the AKP and the MHP have almost the same grassroots and if the MHP has seen that, even without doing much it benefitted from the AKP failures, it will never ever agree to go to bed with the AKP.

The CHP, on the other hand, despite all the celebratory mood, was indeed one of the losers of the election. In the fall, the CHP, proving its reputation of being the party of conventions, will have a convention once again. What is good for Kılıçdaroğlu? To attend a convention as a deputy prime minister of a coalition with the AKP or a defeated opposition leader?