It has been almost a week since the elections in Turkey and there are still debates about possible scenarios in the next phase. The election results have been heavily debated and each political party has spent the last week evaluating the results of the election and the possibility of forming a working and sustainable coalition government. Both public opinion and the politicians emphasized the significance of protecting and preserving the country's economic and political stability. The political cost of another election – which will make four elections in two years – and the possible impact of such an election on the economy is forcing many to discuss the viable coalition alternatives for Turkey. The already complicated issue of coalition formation is getting trickier with conflicting statements from party officials. For instance, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, immediately after the election, said his party is against any form of coalition and prefers to be the main opposition party. However, now some party officials are saying they meant that the party is against any form of coalition with the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). In a similar example, Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıcdaroğlu, just before the elections, said he is against any form of coalition government. However, now the party is actively pursuing different means of forming a coalition government. These statements also reveal that the preconditions and "red lines" for the political parties seem to be more flexible. Since the election night, so far it has only been the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) that has kept its options on the table and has not closed the door for other political parties. Also the HDP is pretty insistent that the party will not accept any form of coalition government with the AK Party. So if we take into account the "updated" statements of the political parties, there are only two options left for a coalition. The first option is an AK Party- CHP coalition, which will have 390 seats in Parliament and the necessary majority to amend the Constitution and carry out the necessary political reforms. However, deep divisions between the two political parties may make it hard for the political parties to sustain such a coalition without a crisis. The second option is an AK Party-MHP coalition, which will have 338 seats in Parliament and sufficient votes to take a new constitution or constitutional amendments to Parliament. For many in Turkey this coalition seems more durable due to the overlapping voter profile and grassroots.
Despite the emergence of these different scenarios and the increasing likelihood of the formation of a coalition government, there are still many risks that a coalition government can create in Turkey. Although some may be more optimistic that the politicians learnt the necessary lessons from their previous experiences of coalition governments and will act differently in those instances, there are still significant problems that may arise due to the absence of any form of conflict resolution and crisis management mechanisms that may resolve the divergences of opinions among the political parties. This situation will endanger not only political stability in Turkey but may also pave the way for an economic crisis as well as a military intervention in politics. More significantly, the regional security crises around Turkey, including the civil war in Syria and Iraq, the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-sham (ISIS) in the region and the conflict in Ukraine, may lead the political crises in Turkey to have some regional repercussions as well. Under these circumstances Turkey may have to go to an early election while facing political crises in an extremely unstable region. At this point, despite the election fatigue and the cost of an early election, an early election may decrease the unpredictability and unforeseen governing crises.
About the author
Kılıç Buğra Kanat is Research Director at SETA Foundation at Washington, D.C. He is an assistant professor of Political Science at Penn State University, Erie.