Both the failure of the opposition bloc against the AK Party and the political success of the party is demonstrated by the bloc's dependence on the AK Party to form a government
The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) lost its chance to come to power alone in the first elections that it entered without being led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This was a golden opportunity for the Republican People's Party (CHP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), all of which established their election campaigns on the objective of removing the AK Party from power. They could have laid claim to ruling the country by establishing a coalition government without the AK Party.
The first disturbance was instigated by Erdoğan's meeting with CHP Deputy Deniz Baykal, who is also a former CHP chairman. Even though the opposition bloc could not fully comprehend the nature of this talk, it overreacted to it. Indeed, Erdoğan negotiated with Baykal in accordance with democratic practices as he is the oldest deputy who was entitled to open Parliament. As Baykal suggested, Erdoğan said he wanted the formation of a coalition government. Considering that the AK Party would support Baykal in the Parliament speaker election following this meeting, there arose many rumors that the AK Party wanted to see Baykal as the CHP leader once again - a position from which Baykal was unfairly removed because of the Gülen Movement, which released a video of his private relationship with a woman.
After all, the AK Party neither supported Baykal in the Parliament speaker election nor took a step that encouraged Baykal's return. It rather nominated its own candidate for Parliament speaker. Since the CHP failed to receive the MHP's support for Baykal in the final round, the AK Party, which had the majority of the vote, elected its candidate, İsmet Yılmaz, Parliament speaker. This was the first defeat that the opposition bloc experienced in the face of the AK Party and then everyone started to blame one another.
Later, CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu called on disintegrated opposition parties to merge under a single bloc and form a coalition of 60 percent against the AK Party, which received 41 percent of the vote in the June 7 elections. He made an offer to MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli to form a coalition and even proposed to be prime minister of a CHP-MHP coalition government, although the MHP received 9 percent less votes than the CHP. Bahçeli fiercely rejected the offer on the grounds that his party would not be able to come together with the HDP. Thus, the opposition bloc of 60 percent collapsed one more time.
Snap elections became inevitable after a coalition failed to be formed between the AK Party and the CHP. An interim election government will be established in accordance with the Constitution that stipulated all parties join it with the number of ministers in proportion to the percentage of votes they received. Despite being unconstitutional, CHP and MHP leaders announced that they would not give ministers to the Cabinet in such a government. However, the MHP's rejectionist attitude that objected to both a coalition government and early elections fizzled out in the end.
MHP Deputy Tuğrul Türkeş, who is the son of the party's legendary founder, Alparslan Türkeş, announced that he accepted to take part in the election government to be established by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. So, the MHP's strategy that pointed to the AK Party as a target by putting forth that it would take part in the same government as the HDP, failed from the very beginning. The MHP did this with the objective of impressing Turkish nationalists during the election period. It is no secret that Türkeş met with Erdoğan at the Presidential Palace after the elections.
The fact that Erdoğan is a political genius is acknowledged even by opponents, however, the rest of the opposition, which has a rejectionist attitude and offers no constructive solution, plays a greater role in the formation of the current picture.
About the author
Hilal Kaplan is a journalist and columnist. Kaplan is also board member of TRT, the national public broadcaster of Turkey.