Stepping back not possible

Stepping back not possible

In the “Kurdish opening” of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government something rather odd has been happening lately. At first there were some nationalist outbursts from the president and his handpicked prime minister, which were reminiscent of the 1990s. Then, all of a sudden, empty nationalist rhetoric was replaced by gunfire and reports of casualties on the “eastern front” once again.

Of course, it is difficult to provide an answer to questions about what is going on, or about what has changed to make a military option come onto the cards again. One reason might be hidden between the abundant sad reports placing the ruling AKP ahead of all other political parties in the June 7 parliamentary elections, but with a possible vote share of less than 40 percent.

People who remember that back in 2002 the AKP came to power with an “outstanding” 34 percent electoral landslide may be hoping that the ruling party might secure over 400 seats with less than 40 percent of the vote. However, that was only possible with the 2002 conditions, when only two parties managed to overcome the 10 percent national threshold. Today, according to many polls, while the AKP is in the lead with around 39 percent of the vote, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) is tipped to get around 28 percent, while the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is believed to be tallying some 18 percent of the vote. The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) may get 10.5 percent.

In this country close to accurate public opinion polls are very rare. Still, these polls indicate a tendency in society and do forecast a blurred post-election photograph of the country. Shall we look at that blurred image now? If indeed the June 7 election ends up producing something close to the results of the public opinion polls, Turkey might return to parliamentary democracy with a pluralist understanding, abandoning the crooked, majoritarian, “only the vote matters” understanding of democracy held by the sultan of the extravagant palace and his political clan of Islamists. 

Under such conditions, the ruling AKP may stay in power with a razor-thin majority or most probably will have to engage in a difficult task of establishing a coalition government with one of the other three parties in parliament. Why? Because such a result will mean that the AKP has either just enough of a 276-seat-strength to form a government, or is just below that and must establish a coalition government. Depending on the composition of parliament, there might even be the probability of a three-way coalition, shoveling the AKP into the opposition.

However, the CHP and the MHP entering into a coalition with the HDP appears to be far more difficult than the AKP finding a partner – any of the three parties – and forming a two-way coalition.
On the other hand, if the HDP fails and stays under the 10 percent national electoral threshold, the AKP might have the chance of winning as many as 300 deputies or more. Some speculate that it may even exceed the required 330-seat-majority that will allow it to legislate a constitutional amendment through a referendum. 

Nevertheless, with the CHP at 28 percent and the MHP at 18 percent, the AKP getting so many deputies would appear to be very difficult, if not impossible.

Another factor to consider is that an escalation in separatist terrorism, a serious shakeup of the economy, or exchange rates sounding the alarm might remind Turks of what is at stake if the country abandons its “single party majority government” and plunges into an era of coalition governments like those of the 1990s.

Of course, it was obvious to anyone with brains that a peace process with separatist terrorists could not mean anything so long as terrorists do not give up their weapons before all concessions are fully implemented. Allowing terrorists to hold the entire nation hostage ought to carry a political price for the AKP.

But can the nation and the state shy away from the peace process at this stage? No. Regardless of whether the process might take the country to disintegration or to a prosperous democratic stage, the genie is now out of the bottle. Not only the AKP, but the entire nation is apparently set to pay the price of the ambiguous process, which no one can step back from - even if there is a surge in violence worse than this week’s.