The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) leader Ahmet Davutoğlu has completed his first round of talks with two potential coalition partners and there seems to be an atmosphere of goodwill and hope that a coalition is possible after all. When Davutoğlu prepared for his talks with the two parties, there were rumors circulating in Ankara that a coalition was not possible and that the country would eventually end up having early elections or, to put it more correctly, a repetition of the parliamentary elections.On Monday, Davutoğlu and his team first met with the Republican People's Party (CHP) team led by party chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. The atmosphere was very warm and the sides reportedly exchanged frank views that heightened the expectations that a coalition between the AK Party and the CHP was possible. On Tuesday, Davutoğlu and his men met with the ultraconservative Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) team chaired by Devlet Bahçeli. Compared to the CHP meeting, the atmosphere was cooler but still rather positive.
On Wednesday Davutoğlu will meet with the co-chairpersons of the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (HDP), but no one expects the HDP to agree to become a coalition partner with the AK Party. Now Ankara is buzzing with analysis over whether a CHP-AK Party coalition is close.
We say such people should be guarded in such an assessment and should not make such hasty assumptions. Firstly, the AK Party executives have devised a strange course of a four-phased negotiation process for a coalition that would theoretically be feasible, but in practice would last too long and put the parties right up to the 45-day deadline when new elections become a constitutional necessity. They want to set up a commission with each party to discuss in phases the priorities of the parties, then discuss the details of how they can reconcile their differences and then come up with a joint program.
Secondly, people should not be misled by the positive atmosphere in the initial phase of the coalition talks, which may well be misleading. No party wants to give the image that it is responsible for the failure of setting up a coalition and forcing early elections. They also may sincerely wish to solve matters and ease the differences, but once the parties sit down to real business, they will have to face hard facts and thus a common position may be very hard to reach.
Can the CHP manage to overcome all its opposition and allow President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to dominate the political scene? Can the CHP rank and file give up their demands of taking alleged corrupt former ministers to court? Turkey is in for a long hot summer now that Ramadan is coming to a conclusion.