The first round of coalition talks provided Turkey's political parties with an opportunity to become familiar with each other and restore their ties. Following the elections, they left accusations and harsh words behind to embrace some degree of reason. Those who believe that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government had invested in polarization and animosity in recent years might find the current situation quite surprising. Things would become clearer, however, if one were to remember that the secularist mindset and a form of neo-conservatism had caused the tensions in the first place. As a matter of fact, the rapid normalization in Turkish politics speaks volumes about the inauthenticity of the polarization debate.
Another reason behind the current trend is that Turkey has to choose between two options, one of which serves everybody's interests. The only way to form a stable government without holding early elections is for the AK Party and the Republican People's Party (CHP) to reach an agreement to form a coalition. Interestingly enough, not only the markets, but also politicians from across the political spectrum have thrown their weight behind this option, each for their own reasons.
The AK Party cannot think of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) as a viable partner unless the party distances itself from the PKK. Meanwhile, the HDP desperately wants to liberate itself from the PKK yoke to develop a sense of agency. As such, the HDP leadership has been vocally opposed to a partnership between the AK Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which will aggravate the violent conflict to empower the PKK leadership at the expense of politicians. A coalition between the AK Party and the CHP, in turn, will allow the HDP to be a staunch opponent while keeping a seat at the table. If the government proves unsuccessful, the HDP might even enjoy a slight boost in its popular support in the next election cycle.
The MHP leadership, meanwhile, announced immediately after the elections that it had no interest in helping the AK Party form a government and has maintained its position until now. At this time, the Turkish nationalists want to become the country's main opposition party, which means that the two most popular parties need to shake hands. The ultimate goal for the MHP is to maintain its current level of popular support even if it means that it cannot steer the country in its direction of choice. Furthermore, the MHP leadership believes that the prospect of resolving the Kurdish question will fuel nationalist fervor among ethnic Turks. Additionally, the party counts on the government to be unsuccessful in order to lure away voters from the AK Party and CHP.
After spending more than a decade as the opposition, the CHP desperately wants to be in the driver's seat. Having failed to capitalize on the AK Party's losses on June 7, the CHP is going out of fashion. In the most recent election the CHP was the least popular party among first-time voters. It does not take an expert to foresee that the CHP will become obsolete unless it comes up with a way to prove valuable or to transform its platform. In order to impress the people, the CHP needs to be part of Turkey's next government and showcase its skills. If it opts to stay in the opposition now, the CHP might not get the same kind of opportunity for another decade.
The AK Party's situation, meanwhile, is unclear. The party operated smoothly in the post-election period to become more and more confident as the prospect of forming a tripartite coalition died down. Furthermore, the AK Party leadership knows that they are the most likely party to score additional points in early elections, which would allow them to hold meetings with potential partners with relative ease. At this point, it would appear that they have long-term strategic goals in mind. Forming a coalition government with the CHP could give the AK Party a shot at restoring ties with the West, addressing the Alevi community's problems and making progress toward a new constitution. Even if a coalition government fails in the end, voters will be more likely to cluster around the AK Party to restore political stability.