Tensions rise in Turkish politics amid opposition election strategy maneuvers
National Sovereignty Day celebrations were marked by political tension between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on April 23, as the latter bids to find a strategy against the AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) alliance in the upcoming snap election.
The special Grand National Assembly Meeting National Sovereignty and Children’s Day session witnessed an angry exchange of words between AKP and CHP lawmakers, particularly after CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu gave a speech describing the ongoing state of emergency as a “civil coup.”
Kılıçdaroğlu criticized the AKP for undermining the legislative authority of parliament, saying the ruling party staged a “civil coup” on July 20, 2016 by issuing the state of emergency.
AKP Deputy Group Chair Mustafa Elitaş then accused Kılıçdaroğlu of “not being able to show resistance” during the July 2016 coup attempt.
“His bitterness over losing his lawmakers has been reflected here,” Elitaş added, referring to the resignation of 15 CHP lawmakers who joined the İYİ Party on April 22 to secure the latter’s participation in upcoming snap elections.
CHP Deputy Group Chair Özgür Özel responded to Elitaş by stating that it was Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım who was “hiding,” claiming that Yıldırım had “spent the night [of July 15] in the Ilgaz Tunnel.”
A visibly angry Yıldırım blasted Özel, saying “it was the prime minister who was instructing the planes to hit the [pro-coup] scoundrels.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reportedly left the assembly meeting as the argument continued, describing events as “disgraceful.”
CHP leader meets SP leader
Meanwhile, because political parties are obliged to reveal protocols regarding their pre-election alliances and lists within a week of the announcement of the electoral schedule - which is expected to be announced this week - the opposition parties are expected to determine their alliances and candidates in the coming week.
In this manner, the opposition has accelerated its talks on possible election strategies.
Following the meeting with İYİ Party leader Meral Akşener over the weekend, CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu met Felicity Party (SP) leader Temel Karamollaoğlu on April 23.
Following the meeting, Kılıçdaroğlu said the CHP is “against the 10 percent electoral threshold” and values the SP’s “contribution to democracy.”
The CHP is reportedly in favor of every party presenting its own candidate for the first round of the presidential race, and aims to find a candidate who could be supported by all opposition segments in the second round to compete against Erdoğan.
Amid questions about whether Akşener will stand as a joint candidate of the two parties, Özel denied the rumors, saying the CHP will present its own candidate who will be determined at the party assembly on April 24.
SP set to hold meetings
Following the meeting with Kılıçdaroğlu, Karamollaoğlu said it was held “in a positive mood,” praising the CHP for its support to the İYİ Party.
Responding to a question of whether the opposition is considering nominating former President Abdullah Gül, among the AKP’s founding members but estranged from the party since his term as president ended in 2014, Karamollaoğlu was non-committal.
“The answer to those questions will be given this weekend,” he said
The SP also set to meet several other opposition parties, with Karamollaoğlu visiting the Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR) on April 23 and being scheduled to meet Akşener in Ankara on April 24, before visiting Gül in Istanbul.
Following the meeting HÜDA-PAR leader Zekeriya Yapıcıoğlu said his party is not in the list of political parties announced by the YSK and will appeal to the board for its participation in the June 24 election.