In the June 7 elections, when 86% of registered voters in Turkey made their voices heard, the AK (Justice and Development) party lost some ground (from 55.9% of the national vote to 51.6%), chiefly as the result of the emergence of a new party: the HDP (People’s Democratic Party).
Ironically, the success of the HDP, which is essentially a Kurdish nationalist party, was due to the AK’s party’s policy of rapprochement with the Kurdish population of Turkey and their greater integration in the political system. But the HDP in fact attracted the leftist vote on a national scale, when its leader sought to widen the party’s appeal. The left had nowhere else to go, since the CHP (Republican People’s Party) is seen as élitist, and the other parties, too conservative.
Actually the AK party also lost some votes to the MHP (Nationalist Movement Party), because of its policy of rapprochement with the Kurds. Nevertheless, AK still came in as the largest party and seems to be taking seriously its obligation to try to form a coalition government, now that it doesn’t have an outright majority in Parliament. This is irrespective of the hard line taken on the matter of coalition politics on the part of all the other parties.
The AK, however, will not back down either on its policy of constitutional reform, which envisages a presidential system with greater executive powers for the president, or on its policy of rapprochement with the Kurds. The HDP rule out a coalition with the AK party, essentially because it represents the protest and leftist vote. The MHP will not countenance the AK Kurdish policy. The only possibility left is a coalition with the CHP, which has, in the past few days, slightly softened its stance on the idea of coalition.
But if its enters into coalition, it will effectively have to agree to a policy on the constitution which will give more power to the position of president, which their bête noire – Erdogan- occupies at the moment. However, the CHP, which had high hopes that “it’s the economy stupid” message would stem its long run of failures, is the biggest loser of this election. So, you never know, maybe they will agree to back the AK party’s main policies, in exchange for some power-sharing.
CHP deputy Deniz Baykal said, after meeting the President today, “I saw that Erdoğan is open to any coalition formula. I gladly saw that he has no objections to opposition parties forming a coalition among themselves,” he added. Baykal has no political clout in the CHP but he is revered as the grand statesman of the left, which was all Erdoğan needed to project a new sense of inclusiveness and reconciliation.
But ultimately, if all of the AK’s attempts at forming a coalition government fail, the resulting political instability, which is already affecting financial markets, will reinforce AK’s argument for the urgent need for constitutional reform. The current situation will then play into AK’s hands, and an early election is likely to lead to an increase in their share of the vote.