Coalition calculations

Published 16.06.2015 23:00
Updated 17.06.2015 09:07

Despite all the AK Party's endeavors for the reconciliation process, the HDP established its entire election strategy on the hatred of Erdoğan

Everyone dreams of a coalition formula in line with the results of the June 7 general elections. Turkish business circles expect a coalition between the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and Republican People's Party (CHP), which they call a grand coalition. It seems good and plausible on paper considering that the number of deputies from the AK Party and CHP adds up to 390 – a combined power that is enough to amend even the Constitution. Although this is not spoken out in the glare of publicity, the CHP leadership is making its calculations in accordance with this formula. The only alternative that excludes the AK Party is a coalition between the CHP, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). This is not realistic because the MHP put it plainly that it would not consent to any option that includes the HDP. Therefore, a coalition between the AK Party and CHP, or a coalition of the AK Party and MHP are the only alternatives. If neither occurs, Turkey will certainly head for early general elections.

The CHP administration drives a hard bargain for a coalition. According to those in the know, CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu demands a rotating prime ministry and an equal number of ministries if it is to form a coalition with the AK Party. In other words, two parties, one of which received 41 percent of the vote and the other received 25 percent of the vote, will form a coalition where the leaders of the two parties will sit in the prime ministry for two years each and will occupy an equal number of ministries. It does not sound reasonable for the AK Party to satisfy such demands.

It is no secret that there are some figures from the AK Party leaning toward the idea of a coalition with the CHP. They are led by the motive that reforms are sustainable, thinking that society will feel relieved and a new period will be established on reforms and restorations if the grand coalition is formed. However, numbers do not always tell the truth. There are three logjams for AK Party figures who argue for such a coalition. First, and perhaps the most impassable, is that they will have difficulty explaining this coalition to the AK Party's conservative base. An AK Party that sets up a coalition with the CHP will rapidly lose votes, and failure to see this reality means the ignorance of society. Second, it should be noted that the CHP will continuously bring the position of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan into question while the conservative base regards him as a leader. Third, the CHP relies on the problematic case files prepared by Gülenists about the Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 operations.

Let us suppose that the AK Party and CHP come to terms on all topics and form the grand coalition. The future of such a coalition is fraught with questions. The CHP is not a party of blocs. Some argue that it is a multi-voiced party while others suggest that everyone within the party talks about different things. It would be difficult for the two parties to come together and rule the country as a coalition government. It is even more difficult to run a coalition with a fragmented structure like the CHP. Journalists who follow the periods when Turkey was ruled by coalition governments tell how ministers leaked information to the outside by sending text messages to journalists regarding the quarrels that occurred during Cabinet meetings. A coalition should be formed without upsetting the dignity of the state.

The second formula is a coalition between the AK Party and MHP. According to a survey conducted by İpsos several days after the elections, 67 percent of AK Party voters and 55 percent of MHP voters surveyed approve of this coalition. The reason that pushes the AK Party's electorate to this formula is that both parties agree with each other in general terms. Since the MHP base has wanted to be in power since 2002, they think the party should form a coalition with the AK Party. It goes without saying that a considerable part of AK Party voters who did not vote for the AK Party in the June 7 elections supported the MHP. Both parties' bases are compatible in ideological terms and they are both conservative and nationalists.

There are two complications for a coalition between the AK Party and MHP. The first one is the reconciliation process. It seems hardly plausible to think that after the June 7 elections, the AK Party will be as insistent on the reconciliation process as it used to. Despite all efforts, the PKK has not laid down its arms. Despite all of the AK Party's endeavors for the reconciliation process, the HDP established its whole election strategy on the hatred of Erdoğan and the AK Party. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu recently said: "From now on, our perspective of the reconciliation process will not be independent from the party that we will form a coalition with. What needs to be done is the HDP's disarmament of the PKK." These remarks give the first signs of the distance that will be put concerning the reconciliation process. It seems that the reconciliation process will not be a major issue between the AK Party and MHP.

The second complication is MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli himself. When his party was a partner to the coalition in 2002, they took the country to early general elections and remained below the 10 percent election threshold. Perhaps this is the reason why Bahçeli cannot overcome the syndrome he experienced in 2002 and disapproves of the idea of a coalition. Let us see whether the party base and organizations can convince Bahçeli to escape this state of mind.

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