The determined odd party out…
It was not a surprise for many to see the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) rushing to aid the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and presenting the parliamentary speaker’s position on a golden plate. The “no deal with the Peoples’ Democracy Party” (HDP) obsession of the MHP nullified the moribund hopes that perhaps the politicians of the country had received the electorate’s message and would abide by it this time.
What was the message the people sent in the June 7 election? The foremost message was a clear “No” to the “New Turkey” and the dictatorial ambitions of the tall and angry man in the illegal, extravagant palace. It was indeed a scream for the defense of the founding principles of the “Old Turkey” and a clear manifestation of the commitment to pluralist democracy rather than majoritarian, obsessive dictatorship. An equally important message was the demand to restore the republic by forging a left-right or Kurdish-Turkish coalition and eradicate the moral, social and, of course, administrative erosion the 13-year AKP government produced.
From the night of the election, the MHP realized that it had lost out when it had been part of past coalitions, while in this election it had advanced its popularity despite doing nothing but pose as a nationalist escape for people disgruntled by the AKP's Kurdish opening. It therefore established a new policy: To remain the odd party out and benefit from the failures of others. The country needed a restoration parliament and a restoration government. The parliamentary speaker is the key person in setting the agenda of the legislature. The opposition could have won the post if they had managed to remain united. The MHP preferred to remain “the odd one out” and did not vote for the strongest opposition candidate – in this case, the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Deniz Baykal – casting invalid votes in the last fourth round when a simple majority would have been enough. Thus, it helped the AKP get its candidate elected. That was an opportunity missed.
Would it make much difference if Baykal had not met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan? Probably not, as the MHP has served more than anyone else in the “rescue the AKP camp.” Yet, it was wrong for Baykal to engage in such dubious efforts. Still, the problem was more with the MHP than Baykal’s greed. Not to vote for someone because someone else decided to vote for him is a sick mentality.
This was a demonstration of the non-existence of what people described on June 7, election night as the “opposition bloc” that would stand against the hegemonic administrative style of President Erdoğan and the AKP. The “we’ll not support anything the HDP supported” or “I will not walk on the roads the HDP people walked on” mentality of the MHP is a very problematic and unhealthy one. First of all, there is discrimination against a political party and millions of people who voted for that party. The MHP’s claim that the HDP is still an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist gang cannot, of course, be a claim that can be ignored. The HDP has indeed betrayed people many times ever since it received that outstanding electoral support and shattered the electoral threshold by making overtures to terrorists. However, the MHP can be accused by some as a chauvinistic, racist group still carrying the blood of many people killed on the streets in the 1970s. Thus, irrespective of how valid and understandable the MHP criticisms against the HDP might be, adopting a “no contact with HDP, no support for anything supported by the HDP” cannot be a politically valid and democratically viable attitude.
It was obvious because of the MHP’s bold statements that a three-way coalition government would be difficult to forge. A minority CHP-MHP government supported from the outside by the HDP has become impossible as well. But the election of the parliamentary speaker and a serious crisis of confidence among the opposition parties have brought the AKP and MHP closer. Many political analysts have started to believe an AKP-MHP coalition government has become discernible.
But, something else has become discernible as well. A repeat election might not be that easy to achieve for Erdoğan aspiring to see an AKP comeback. An AKP coalition with the MHP cannot be a lasting one and strong enough to cater to the mounting challenges the country is facing. What will happen to the economy? And worse, what will happen to the Kurdish opening? Especially if the opening is “closed,” how will Turkey cope again with a surge in separatist violence? Most probably within a year Turkey will have to go to the polls again.
In any case, the current picture of the legislature is not one of a parliament where parties can undertake long-term plans and serve in stability for the well-being of the nation.