The day after: AK Party remains in the driver's seat

Published 09.06.2015 00:28

The election results came down like a bomb on the ardent supporters of the Justice and Democracy Party (AK Party) who have been used to landslide victories in past elections. Ankara is buzzing with coalition rumors and the favored solution seems to be a coalition between the AK Party and the ultra-conservative Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). However, late on Sunday, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli in a surprising manner closed the doors to all sorts of coalitions and called for early elections. The attitude of Bahçeli was rather amateurish, as those of us who are familiar with the intricacies of Turkish politics know well, conditions change very quickly and 24 hours is a very long time in Turkish politics, thus at times events can embarrass leaders who make hasty statements.

Every party enters the elections to win a majority and become the governing party. If this can't be done, they would then favor being part of a coalition. Bahçeli is aware of the fact that his MHP crowd would want him to become a coalition partner and make use of the advantages of being in government securing jobs and financial dividends for its supporters. However, Bahçeli is aware that being in government also means being a part of the immense problems of the country and especially having to face the growing economic challenges of Turkey. That also means the MHP may end up in a situation that it cannot fully control as a junior coalition partner but will have to pay the price in voter dissatisfaction in a possible future early election. Bahçeli wants to stay in opposition and enter the future early elections with the advantage of being in opposition and further increase his votes.

So the AK Party may then seek the backing of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) but that too may not be a bright prospect. The HDP will not want to share the responsibilities of being in government while having to act like a junior partner in a coalition. It will of course demand more rights for the Kurds and the AK Party, which has already lost votes to the MHP because of its concessions to the Kurds, will not be able to reciprocate. Besides it will also want to have a major say on many issues, especially on social problems and rights and freedoms and that too will not be well received by the AK Party, which wants to do things its own way. The HDP has to put in a good performance as it is aware it has to live up to the expectations of the votes entrusted to it by voters who would have normally voted for other parties but this time opted for the HDP to help it pass the 10 percent threshold.

An AK Party coalition with the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) is also in the offing and would be ideal for many Turks, but their past confrontations have made them enemies and it is very hard for them to reconcile their differences. If by chance the AK Party manages to forge a coalition with any of these parties through political maneuvering then a coalition can be formed but given the conditions in Turkey we feel that too could be short lived.

So at the end of the day the AK Party has to do some soul searching, see its mistakes and determine how it can get back its lost votes. If it manages to do this, it can again emerge with a majority government in the future polls that could come as early as six months or sooner. Here President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will be important in what happens within the AK Party.

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