ErdoIan would prefer early elections

It is often said that elections alone do not qualify a country as a democracy. Yet, sometimes only elections can save (or end) democracies. It is equally true that there can be no real democracy without elections. For the last few years, Turkey has been defined by most objective observers and analysts as an andquotilliberal democracy.andquot Illiberal democracies are political systems where there are seemingly free and fair elections yet there is no real pluralism. Elections only produce a tyranny of the majority in the absence of institutional checks and balances over the elected autocracy.
The institutional checks and balances I am talking about are mechanisms that limit the arbitrary power of the executive branch. In more concrete terms, they are fundamental elements such as the independence of the judiciary, the presence of a free media and individual rights and liberties such as freedom of speech and assembly. All these institutions were on the verge of extinction in the Justice and Development Partyand’s (AKP) so-called andquotnew Turkeyandquot despite the presence of seemingly free and fair elections. Thanks to one election victory after another, the AKP was able to relentlessly pursue its repressive policies. It was clear that the only way to stop this cycle of authoritarianism was an electoral defeat.
This is not what exactly happened last Sunday. The AKP still won the elections, with almost 41 percent of the vote. Yet, in what constitutes a fatal blow to President Recep Tayyip Erdoganand’s dream of establishing a presidential system, the party came short of the simple majority — let alone a super majority — it needs to form a government. This result is above all a psychological defeat for the AKP and President Erdogan. For the first time since its inception, the AKP is condemned to find a coalition partner to establish a governing majority.
Who will this coalition partner be? The most likely candidate, the Nationalism Movement Party (MHP), wants Erdogan to act like a traditional non-political presidential figure. Yet, if we know one thing about Erdogan it is that he believes he is entitled to govern. After all, as he never tires of reminding his critics, he is the first popularly elected president and he received 52 percent of the vote. He clearly thinks that no one can confine him to the role of traditional presidents such as Ahmet Necdet Sezer or Abdullah Gandul. Add to all this Erdoganand’s absolute determination to stop all legal investigations of corruption allegations. Such dynamics will tie Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoiluand’s hands and rule out coalition scenarios between the AKP, the MHP or the Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP). Since the Peoplesand’ Democratic Party (HDP) has made clear it will not even consider a coalition with the AKP, there remains only two alternatives.
The first is a CHP-MHP minority coalition, supported by the HDP in a parliamentary vote of confidence. The precondition for such a scenario is to convince the MHP that the Kurdish peace process needs to continue. The MHP is opposed to talks with the Kurdistan Workersand’ Party (PKK). Yet, Devlet Bahandceli, the leader of the MHP, could be more flexible if HDP Co-chair Selahattin Demirtai becomes the main interlocutor instead of jailed PKK leader Abdullah andOcalan. This possibility of an anti-AKP grand coalition could potentially pave the way for a democratic coalition and good economic governance in the hands of experienced names such as Kemal Dervii.
The second alternative is early elections. In case neither Davutoilu nor CHP leader Kemal Kiliandcdaroilu manage to form a government in the next 45 days, there will have to be early elections. In my opinion, this is exactly what Erdogan wants because he believes that voters will see in the next few weeks a constant deterioration in the economic and security situation in Turkey. With the lira hitting new lows, financial instability, higher unemployment and bombs exploding in ethnically mixed cities, Turkish people could easily develop a sense of nostalgia for the stability and predictability that the AKP has provided since 2002. The coalition governments of the 1990s produced the andquotlost decadeandquot of Turkey. No one wants to go back to these darks years. This is why the AKP and Erdogan will be pushing for early elections and hope that instability in the next few months will convince voters to come back to their senses. In short, it is still too early to celebrate the victory of Turkish democracy. We are not out of the woods yet.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman