New but critical era in politics

Turkish voters demonstrated their strong opposition to an authoritarian presidential system while ending the 13-year-long single-party rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) during the general election on Sunday.
Now that Turkey has been relieved of concerns that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will put into force his much-feared executive presidency in place of the current parliamentary system, the possibility of a coalition government, a minority government or an early election have occupied the top agenda of political discussions. Yet there is the concern that Turkey may enter a period of serious instability given the fact that neither of the four political parties that have won seats in Parliament can set up a coalition government with each other due to their deep ideological differences that may not be reconciled.
The biggest loser in Sundayand’s voting, meanwhile, was President Erdogan, who served as the AKPand’s prime minister for about 12 years before being elected president in the first direct election in August last year. The AKP, even though it emerged as the strongest party, failed to win enough seats to form a single-party government, let alone grab over 330 seats to realize Erdoganand’s ambition of introducing an executive presidency.
Hence, the majority of the record number of voters — about 86.56 percent of all eligible voters in Turkey — who cast their ballots on Sunday have buried Erdoganand’s dream of an authoritarian presidential system.
According to unofficial results of the polls, the AKP lost about 9 percent of its vote compared to the 2011 general election, falling from 49.84 percent (327 seats) to about 40.81 percent and only 256 seats in the 550-member Parliament.
The winner of Sundayand’s elections is the minor opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) as well as the main pro-Kurdish Peopleand’s Democratic Party (HDP). The MHP increased its votes from 13.01 percent in 2011 to 16.5 percent. The HDP, as the main game changer of the election, surpassed the critical 10 percent threshold and received 12.99 percent of the vote, sending 80 deputies to Parliament, only two seats less than the MHP. The main opposition Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP), however, lost over one percentage point compared to the 2011 election, winning around 25.17 percent of the vote and sending 132 deputies to Parliament.
By surpassing the threshold, the HDP has changed the equation of Erdogan and the AKP governmentand’s plan to make changes to the Constitution to introduce the executive presidential system. The HDP overcoming the threshold has reduced the number of seats gained by the AKP, ending its majority position.
The HDPand’s gain also means a big defeat for the AKP in the Kurdish-dominated southeastern provinces where the majority of conservative Kurdish voters this time opted for the former and not the latter.
As the abovementioned results have displayed, Turkish voters punished both Erdogan and the AKP for their highly divisive, repressive and authoritarian policies. But they also did not give the green light to any of the other parties to win the election and come to power alone, demonstrating their mistrust. Hence, voters said, and”You parties set up a coalition government to find a solution to the countryand’s deeply polarized political atmosphere, which is in fact of your own making.and” This polarization in society is already endangering the economy while Turkey has been facing a security threat from the neighboring Syrian civil war.
Yet there is little chance that any of the three opposition parties will set up a coalition government with the AKP or amongst themselves. If, however, the AKP for instance pledges to send its four former ministers to a top court for trial over graft charges, one of the three parties may agree to set up a coalition government with the AKP. But at this point, the biggest question mark is whether the AKP will act independently from President Erdogan, who in fact has been the main actor in preventing a high-profile corruption and bribery scandal from being investigated. He and some of his family members are also implicated in the graft scandal. But Erdogan, in his capacity as president, can only be charged for offences of treason that do not include corruption allegations. The leaders of all the other three political parties have already declared their determination to bring the alleged corrupt individuals, including those who are not politicians, to court.
A minority government headed by the AKP — provided that some opposition deputies agree to support this party — or a coalition government among the opposition parties — letand’s say between the CHP and the MHP with the HDP supporting it from the outside — are among the other options being debated in Ankara.
If any of the parties fail to put the nationand’s interests before their self-interests and thus fail to form a coalition government in 45 days, as stipulated in the Constitution, President Erdogan has to announce an early election.
At the end of the day, however, Erdogan and his AKP should be afraid of the inevitable repercussions of their acts that have seriously violated the rule of law, with hundreds of police officers, judicial members, critical journalists as well as senior bureaucrats facing vague charges — mostly with manufactured evidence — of espionage, insult or coup plans to unseat its rule.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman