Reshuffling political cards
The developments within and related to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), as well as the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and İYİ Party (Good), are of great importance for the future of politics in this country. If in Turkey the maximum vote the left – or whatever that might be described as left – can get is 40 percent, and if this country is to stay in an executive presidential governance, political change can come only through conversions within the right.
The growth of the MHP at the apparent expense of the AKP, while dismantling its diehard nationalist platform on the one hand and the AKP adopting gradually a consolidated nationalist approach to issues such as the Kurdish problem, Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean might be considered, among many other reasons, among fundamental reasons behind the new formations shaping up around former President Abdullah Gül-Ali Babacan team as well as former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. Most prominent members were forced to quit the governing party.
Both those two groups have been instrumental in the past successes of the AKP, particularly in the economic sphere but also regarding Turkey’s major foreign policy successes as well as failures, headed by the country being plunged into the Syria quicksand. Interesting enough, these two groups have been advancing at the expense of the AKP without pledging anything new but on hopes that there might be a revival in the ties of the country with the Western world.
Speculations that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan might call an early election – which also means an early presidential vote under the latest constitutional arrangements – sometime in the fall of next year is an added source of excitement for those in efforts to set up a political party. On the other hand, one major element that might negate the possibility of an early election is the discussion on whether or not Erdoğan might seek reelection. Under the constitution, if the incumbent is in his second term, he can run for office for a third time if parliament votes to dissolve itself. If the president resigns, on the other hand, parliament is automatically dissolved as well but the president in his second term cannot seek reelection. The combined vote of the AKP and the MHP does not suffice the 3/5 qualified vote required for parliament to call an election. Could Erdoğan call for election and terminate his presidency? He, of course, might find a formula to bypass that constitutional arrangement, but at least there will be some serious controversy and tension.
What might happen if there is a surge in terrorism, as it happened in between the June and November elections in 2015? Would the opposition join calls for an early election? On the other hand, the success of the organization of two new parties on the same electoral base of the AKP might result in taking few precious percentage points from the ruling block, landing it below 50 percent and losing everything.
That change might come not from the left but from the two siblings of the AKP eroding the electoral base of the ruling party. In such a scenario would İYİ become a survival tool for the president and his ruling front? There comes the MHP’s fight with İYİ. Of course, nothing is impossible in elections. No one should forget that while in forging her party Meral Akşener knocked on the door of Gül many times and requested him to become their leader. But she was as well instrumental in the presidential vote in killing the prospective of the Nation Alliance’s (with the Republican People’s Party) candidacy of Gül, threatening to leave the group.
In this rather shaky political ground, of course what might come next and how cards will be reshuffled depends largely on the success of both Babacan-Gül and Davutoğlu teams as well as the economic performance of the country. With empty pockets, the electorate might tend to take revolutionary decisions.