The HDP gathered votes in order to continue the reconciliation process that had been ongoing for two-and-a-half years. Yet the HDP is making announcements legitimizing the PKK's violent terrorist acts rather than criticizing them
One of the most important questions staring at us is if Turkish politics entered a new phase in the aftermath of the June 7 elections. Despite the election being over, a new administration still is yet to be formed. Justice and Development Party (AK Party) leader and interim prime minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, began working to form a coalition government after receiving the mandate from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Although many different configurations were talked about, only one scenario remained after a short time. This was a coalition between the AK Party and Republican People's Party (CHP). Under what circumstances is a coalition possible? What are the possible opportunities and dilemmas of this coalition? For how long can a coalition administration stay in power? These questions are the most important questions we are looking at.
In order for a coalition to be established, the AK Party and CHP need to come to an agreement on fundamental policies, crisis issues and power sharing. Undoubtedly, the greatest obstacle to a potential CHP-AK Party coalition is the difference in the two parties' attitudes on foreign policy. The AK Party's 13-year foreign policy, which is thought to have entered a period of crisis after 2011, has been severely criticized by the CHP for years. The most fundamental critique the CHP made was that the AK Party adopted essentialist policies. For years, the CHP continuously emphasized that the AK Party had an Islamist- and Sunni-biased foreign policy attitude. The CHP especially criticized the AK Party's Egypt and Syria policies. More than that, the CHP sided with the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and went to meet with him in order to show their support for the regime. In response, the AK Party considered these critiques to be extremely ideological and accusations devoid of any reality. More than that, it claimed that this was an attempt to discredit them on the international level and to make them fall from power. Throughout the meetings for the coalition, the CHP has continued to criticize the AK Party's foreign policy, which the AK Party continued to defend. Despite this seemingly irreconcilable stance on foreign policy, interestingly enough there is an expectation of an agreement on issues such as the economy, terror, education and health among others.
However, it is not just the understanding of foreign policy that is standing in the way of establishing an AK Party-CHP coalition. There are two other obstacles. The first is the CHP's attitude of "otherizing" Erdogan, who was elected with 52 percent of the popular vote as the AK Party candidate. The second is that the bases of the parties do not want this coalition. Public surveys reveal that nearly two-thirds of the AK Party base does not want a coalition. While on the CHP side there is a greater percentage of people who want this kind of coalition, they are left in an ambivalent situation due to their anti-Erdogan stance, which has become a type of identity for them. While talking about the positive features of a potential coalition between the AK Party and CHP, we can see that many particulars come up. But the most important factor among all of them is the thesis that the political polarization that has been on the rise recently will lessen.
Can such a coalition truly lessen political polarization? A certain level of rehabilitation can be spoken about, of course. However, because of certain specific reasons, I am of the opinion that the expectations that an AK Party-CHP coalition will reduce political polarization are exaggerated expectations. First of all, the AK Party elite and an important part of its base is of the opinion that the rising polarization in Turkey is a situation related to the limitations of public appearances. According to them, when societal sectors who had been suppressed for years became visible through political normalization, this was evaluated as political polarization by the CHP elite and mainstream media. Pro-AK Party people are also of the view that this aforementioned polarization works to create the political energy necessary to continue the creation of policies.
I am of the opinion that despite the inclination of both parties, a CHP-AK Party coalition does not seem realistic. In this situation, the quality of the administration that will take Turkey to elections will come to the agenda. Early elections are standing in front of us as an important truth of Turkish politics. This has created an understanding of an administrative vacuum and armed terrorist groups, the PKK foremost among them, are in search of using this environment to their benefit.
However, with the government starting operations against terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria and the PKK domestically, a new political environment has been created. One of the most critical actors in this political environment is the PKK's political representative, the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). The HDP gathered votes in order to continue the reconciliation process that had been ongoing for two-and-a-half years and to speed up the democratization process. Yet the HDP is making announcements legitimizing the PKK's violent and terrorist acts rather than criticizing them. It seems to me that this is the perfect time for those who created political romanticism around the HDP to remind the HDP that it needs to support peace, not war.