Usually after the results of the elections are known political party leaders negotiate with each other in order to form a coalition government if no party has secured a majority in Parliament. This is exactly what happened in Turkey after the June 7 general elections. The parliamentary system gives way to such kind of political bottlenecks. In Turkey, the political history is rich in such setbacks. One of the main direct causes of the 1980 coup was the inability of Parliament to elect a president because the political parties could not establish a consensus on a single candidate. Turkey has had an uninterrupted period of political stability that went hand in hand with a period of important steady economic growth. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been foreseeing such a political bottleneck after 13 years of one-party rule, this is why he has been so adamantly insisting on reforming the political system in order to consolidate and continue stability.
Not only has the presidential regime he sought been made impossible, but there is a new and rather alarming evolution in Turkey. Political parties are behaving as if the government will not be the result of a consensus among themselves, but an open front against the president of the Republic. The president in Turkey enjoys a wide range of rights and duties inherited from a regime that was put in place by the military in the aftermath of the 1980 coup. The position has a highly symbolic role as the highest representative of the Republic, but in practice the presidency enjoys a number of executive rights as well. The fact that presidential elections have been amended as to allow citizens to directly elect the president in a two-round electoral system has recently changed the rules of the game. Erdoğan, as the first directly elected president of Turkey, enjoys a very large democratic legitimacy, having had the support of 52 percent of the voters in the first round.
He is perfectly suited to the role of mediator for the negotiations that are going to be taking place among the four represented parties in Parliament. According to the Constitution, the president is entitled to nominate any member of Parliament to form a government. If no government can be formed within 45 days after the inauguration of the new Parliament and the nomination of a prime minister, or ministers, the president has also the constitutional right to call for new elections if he deems it necessary. He would then nominate a caretaker Cabinet to prepare the elections.
Even this preliminary definition of presidential rights shows how central and essential Erdoğan's role is during the period of formation of a coalition government. Alas, his first and very sensible step to meet the oldest elected member of Parliament, former chairman of the Republican People's Party (CHP), Deniz Baykal, has created an outcry in opposition circles. According to their criticism, Erdoğan should stay away from government talks and should not intervene in any case in negotiations.
Let alone the futility of such an argument, this very aggressive stance on the part of opposition circles does not bode well at all for the functioning of Turkish democracy. Turkey has a regime that allows vibrant democratic elections to be held in an environment of open warfare and massacres in neighboring countries. This is a very important asset nobody should try to undermine as a vendetta against the elected president.