Turkey heading for snap elections, forming a coalition gov't appears difficult

SENA ALKAN @senaalkan
Published 09.08.2015 20:07
Updated 09.08.2015 20:08

Interim Prime Minister and Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Chairman Ahmet Davutoğlu is expected to meet with Republican People's Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu today at 6:00 p.m. at the Prime Ministry for coalition talks, as long-continued exploratory talks signal that snap elections are more likely than forming a coalition government and that parties have started preparing for election campaigns.

Political parties in Turkey have been struggling to form a coalition government since the June 7 general election in which the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) lost its majority in Parliament after nearly a dozen years, as the country has witnessed 35 hours of exploratory talks between the AK Party and the CHP. The Constitution-mandated 45 days that Davutoğlu has to form a government ends on Aug. 23.

As the final date to form a government approaches, parties are preparing for a possible snap election. The AK Party staff reportedly said that it is not possible to run the country for a long time under a coalition government formed either with the CHP or the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and the AK Party team is preparing to make some changes in discourse and policies that partly caused a loss of votes for the party in the June 7 election.

The discourse and policies were detected via a survey, and a new road map for a possible snap election will be drawn in accordance with the survey results.

A detailed study of the provinces that resulted in a loss of seats by the AK Party in Parliament is reportedly on the way; thus, the main strategy is to revise some "wrong choices" on the deputy candidate list and take steps to reconsider items seen as "problematic" by the public. The party will also discuss the three-term rule that the party adopts in the event of a snap election. There might be some changes over the rule, considering whether the snap election is perceived as a "revote."

CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu has also instructed his staff to start preparations for a snap election, such as inviting CHP deputies to the capital to clarify what kinds of election material they will follow and using the survey method to designate promises for a possible snap election. A tender over a flag and brochures for a possible election is reportedly to be initiated, as well. The CHP's primary election tactic will also see a change for the snap election since it is unlikely to organize a primary election in such a short period.

Preparing for the election campaign, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli asked MHP organizations to get ready for the snap election in a meeting that was part of "provincial consultation meetings." It is also expected that the MHP will go to the polls with the same candidates.

Before the critical "leaders meeting," which is expected today between the AK Party and the CHP, there are still five items on the table that the two parties disagree on. Indications are that CHP members are losing hope in a possible AK Party-CHP coalition due to recent statements from the MHP, as a report submitted to Davutoğlu by the AK Party delegation that held talks with the CHP reportedly contains more disagreements than agreements between the two parties.

The first item is foreign policy. The CHP wants to completely change Turkey's foreign policy, but Davutoğlu, who is the architect behind Turkey's current foreign policy, will not reportedly let go of the Foreign Ministry. Education policies are the second area of disagreement between the CHP and AK Party. The CHP, which wants to shut down the Supreme Education Board (YÖK), also wants to change the current 4+4+4 system to 13 years of compulsory education in a 1+8+4 system. The CHP also aims to rewrite the curriculum of İmam Hatip religious schools that the AK Party is sensitive about. Furthermore, the Kurdish issue and the reconciliation process was another topic in the coalition talks. Although AK Party and CHP officials have reportedly agreed on the formation of a new constitution, reportedly the two parties diverge on the topic of limiting presidential power. While the CHP is insistent on its 14 conditions, it has indicated that fulfilling its election promises concerning social policies is another critical topic.

Almost three-quarters of participants in a recent survey conducted by the Ankara-based Objective Research Center (ORC) indicated that they are in favor of early elections as opposed to a coalition government. Conducted in 36 provinces with the participation of 3,200 citizens between July 11 and July 15, the ORC survey found that 72 percent of participants supported early elections and 28 percent support the formation of a coalition government.

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