Turkey's Erdoğan raises doubts on coalition before key meet

Turkey's Erdoğan raises doubts on coalition before key meet

Turkeys Erdoğan raises doubts on coalition before key meet

AFP photo

The leaders of the de facto ruling and main opposition parties are set to meet Aug. 13 for a make-or-break meeting on a coalition, but President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has expressed doubts about the possibilities, insisting that the country needs a strong political will to resolve its problems. 

“Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, whom I mandated to form the government, can take steps for an early election or form a coalition. However, his opinions must match the opinions of the other party. It is not as if he will commit suicide if they do not match,” Erdoğan said in an address to village heads Aug. 12 in Ankara. 

Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of the National Movement Party (MHP), which is not involved in coalition talks, criticized Erdoğan for the timing of his statement.  

Prime Minister and Justice and Development Party (AKP) chair Davutoğlu and Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu are scheduled to meet Aug. 13 in Ankara at 2 p.m. local time to give a final decision about whether they will form a government or not. The meeting comes just 10 days before the mandate Erdoğan gave to Davutoğlu expires on Aug. 23; if no coalition is formed, the country could go to snap elections within 90 days.

Hopes are not high for a coalition government as the CHP blames Erdoğan for blocking the making of a government in line with his personal ambitions. Dismissing such criticisms from the CHP as slander, Erdoğan said his wish was to form a government but in the event of failure, the only option would be to rerun the elections. 

“Each passing day shows more clearly the need for a strong political will for the solution of Turkey’s problems. I would endorse whichever option that would provide this. The most important character of democracy and politics is the fact that they can always address the people’s will in such situations,” Erdoğan said.   

Arguing that citizens in east and southeastern Anatolian were unable to exercise their will because of the alleged threats of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) before the June 7 polls, Erdoğan criticized relevant state institutions for not taking adequate measures to prevent this.  

“Despite this, a picture emerged after the elections that could have been well evaluated and a new era could have started for Turkey. But that didn’t happen. The political party leaders’ indecisiveness pushed Turkey into a difficult period,” he said, adding that the PKK tried to take advantage of this uncertainty by breaking a cease-fire.  

In contrast, many in the opposition accuse Erdoğan of fanning the flames of war with the PKK in the hopes of discrediting the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), thereby pushing them under the 10 percent electoral threshold and gaining the ability to impose a presidential system that would leave him unencumbered by checks and balances.

No expansion of mandate 

In other remarks he made that were interpreted as a strong sign of his desire for an early election, Erdoğan said he did not have any authority to extend the approaching deadline for the formation of a coalition.

“I don’t have any authority to extend the 45 day [deadline],” Erdoğan said, responding to questions from reporters late on Aug. 11, when asked whether he planned to use an initiative to extend the deadline for ongoing coalition efforts. He noted he would take only the required steps according to his presidential authority within the 45 days. Erdoğan said his initiative, or “the chronological process,” should be respected.

The president said he would not let the country remain without a government, as he interpreted Article 116 of the constitution as a way to use his authority to pave the way for new government formulas. 
“If a new cabinet cannot be formed within 45 days … [of parliamentary elections] without being defeated by a vote of confidence, the President of the Republic may likewise, in consultation with the President of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, call for new elections,” states Article 116.

CHP readies for polls 

Just a day before the key meet, both Davutoğlu and Kılıçdaroğlu held lengthy meetings with their party fellows to discuss whether to form a government. 

While Davutoğlu chaired his party’s central decision-making body, Kılıçdaroğlu convened his 131 lawmakers in Ankara to listen to each of them before finalizing his party’s decision. 

“We sincerely want to form a coalition government,” deputy parliamentary group leader Özgür Özel told reporters Aug. 12. However, they are also continuing to work for potential early elections in the case of failure.

Özel informed the 131 that the party would go to all of Turkey’s 81 provinces to explain to people why a coalition government did not happen. Election brochures have been handed to lawmakers, he said. Özel repeated that the CHP wants to form a government with a four-year mandate and resolve the country’s main issues.

Meanwhile, Bahçeli said Erdoğan was attempting to hurt democracy’s spirit with his intervention. 

“On the eve of the coalition meeting between the AKP and the CHP, it is an attempt on the spirit of democracy for Erdoğan to be active as a third party,” Bahçeli said in a written statement Aug. 12.