Turkey's AKP avoids giving HDP key seats in interim gov’t

Turkey's AKP avoids giving HDP key seats in interim gov’t

Nuray Babacan - ANKARA
Turkeys AKP avoids giving HDP key seats in interim gov’t

AFP photo

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) has begun mulling potential hurdles in the event it is forced to form a power-sharing interim government with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which it accuses of having links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu made an eleventh hour call to the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on Aug. 20 to form a three-party coalition for two months, until early elections are held in two months.

“The place to solve the problems in a democracy is parliament; let us do our jobs and form a government and get a decision for early elections in parliament,” Davutoğlu said during a press conference in Ankara.

Davutoğlu’s call did not include the HDP, the only party in parliament that said it would send ministers to an interim government.

The sharing of ministries with portfolios related to national security and the extension of a parliamentary motion which permitted the incumbent government last year to launch military attacks in Iraq and Syria and allowed foreign troops to launch attacks from Turkish soil are on top of the AKP’s to-do list in the event of a partnership with the HDP. 

A new calendar will start running on Aug. 24 if President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan commissions the AKP leader, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, to form an interim government.

National security body to meet on Sept. 2

Turkey’s influential national security body will hold its next meeting on Sept. 2, that is to say, when an interim “election government” is expected to be in charge of the country, which has been shaken by conflict between its security forces and outlawed militants.

With the HDP appearing to be the sole partner in an interim government led by their party, which received the highest number of votes in the June 7 polls, the AKP has focused on priority matters. 

The AKP assumes that no ministries or portfolios that involve national security will be allocated to the HDP.

In addition to the prime minister and the justice, defense, interior and foreign affairs ministers, deputy prime ministers are also members of the National Security Council (MGK), which brings together Turkey’s civilian and military leaders. 

Thus, the AKP plans to avoid potential handicaps by not including any deputy prime ministry post in the election government, paving the way for a 22-seat cabinet. 

The incumbent, 26-seat cabinet is composed of the prime minister, four deputy prime ministers and 21 executive ministries.

If the AKP cannot go ahead with the plan, it will attempt to postpone the upcoming regular bimonthly meeting of the MGK as the interim government will be in power only until the election, which is expected to be held in early November.

HDP rejects any ‘fait accompli’

The Republican People’s Party (CHP), the second biggest party after the June 7 parliamentary election, said Aug. 19 that it was “out of the question” for the party to take part in a short-term election government. The third-placed Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) already opposed involvement in an interim government, while the fourth-placed HDP was warm to the idea.

However, the HDP doesn’t seem positive on the conduct of matters in the way the AKP has been planning, with its spokesperson Ayhan Bilgen warning the potential prime minister to stay away from any “impositions.”

“We will insist for acts in line with procedure,” the HDP’s Bilgen told the state-run Anadolu Agency on Aug. 20, in response to Davutoğlu’s earlier remarks suggesting he would select individuals who would hold ministry seats allocated to the HDP.

“We see that there is a quest for a formula which doesn’t involve the HDP either,” Bilgen said. A political party’s involvement in another party’s internal affairs is against the nature of politics, he said, underlining that any “fait accompli” would backfire. 

HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, meanwhile, reiterated his party’s willingness to be part of an interim government.

“Our taking part in an election government is not meant to be a partner in the AKP’s government,” Demirtaş said, in remarks published in daily Habertürk on Aug. 20. 

Motion renewal

Apart from the prime ministry post, the AKP would be expected to hold 10 ministries in an interim government, according to parliamentary arithmetic. The CHP would hold six ministries while the MHP and the HDP would hold three ministries each. 

With the CHP’s and the MHP’s decisions to abstain, its ministries could be held by non-partisan figures that may be chosen from among academics and former lawmakers - not necessarily from the state civil service.

A motion adopted on Oct. 2, 2014, that authorized the launch of military incursions into Syria and Iraq for possible operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is set to expire soon. 

According to senior AKP executives, avoiding the extension of this motion is not an option. According to the same executives, the issue could be resolved in two different ways: Either the motion will be brought to the agenda of an extraordinary session of parliament before the establishment of a new government, or it will be opened to signatures to be collected from deputies in order to be sent to parliament after the establishment of a government.

The AKP has reportedly taken into consideration the probable unwillingness of the three prospective HDP ministers to sign the motion. If the potential ministers do not ultimately sign the motion, the AKP plans to resort to methods such as dismissing or removing the cabinet members.

In such a case, the signatures could be given by proxy. Even if the HDP subsequently submitted new names to the ministries, the process would be completed by then.