Possible futures for Turkey

As I write this column votes are being cast in a general election most crucial for the future of the political regime in Turkey.
The election campaign was hugely unfair. The president of the country, required by the Constitution to be politically impartial, frantically held rallies in favor of the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), and the ruling party took aantage of public resources, including the state broadcasting corporation and news agency. There were widespread fears that the AKP would attempt election fraud, which prompted the non-partisan civic group Oy ve andOtesi (Vote and Beyond) to mobilize tens of thousands to monitor the ballot boxes. It was hoped that the efforts of Vote and Beyond and the election observers sent by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) would secure a largely fair ballot.
During the campaign I have endorsed and called on my readers to vote for the Peoplesand’ Democratic Party (HDP) led by Selahattin Demirtai, to enable it to surpass the undemocratic 10 percent election threshold and help the country stand against the increasingly arbitrary and authoritarian rule by the AKP government led in practice by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. What I would like to do here is to try to sketch the main future scenarios for Turkey in the aftermath of the election.
The first scenario is that the HDP passes the threshold, and consequently the Erdogan party fails to form the government singlehandedly. This could undoubtedly be the happiest outcome of this election. In this case, however, it is necessary that all three opposition parties, that is, the Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the HDP, while refusing to cooperate with the AKP, reach a consensus on forming a tripartite coalition government. Alternatively, the HDP would support a government formed by the CHP and MHP in order to restore the lost rule of law as much as possible. The measures required in that context would primarily include the prosecution of the suspects of the greatest corruption probe in the history of the republic made public in December 2013, the abolition of the first instance criminal courts used by the government to suppress opposition and legislation to secure the independence of the judiciary and the freedom of the press and lower the election threshold to at most 5 percent. If the opposition parties fail to form a coalition government within 45 days, Erdogan has the constitutional power to hold another election. We may then be faced with the danger of the AKP winning that election big by claiming that the opposition parties have proven unable to govern.
The second scenario is when, no matter if the HDP fails or succeeds in overcoming the threshold, the AKP manages to win at least 276 seats and is able to form the government on its own. Although this will pre-empt Erdoganand’s ambition to introduce a Putin-style executive presidency, he may continue to claim that he can only be prosecuted for treason and in violation of the Constitution behave as a de facto executive president. Since the parliamentary group of the AKP will be composed of deputies handpicked by Erdogan, a revolt against him from within or a split in the ranks the party (as anticipated by some) is highly unlikely. The only positive thing that can be expected to ensue from this scenario is that the AKP will face the impending economic downturn on its own, and eventually lose power in the 2019 general election at the latest.
The third is the nightmare scenario for Turkey. In this, the HDP fails to surmount the threshold and the AKP manages to garner at least 330 seats, perhaps by convincing some deputies from other parties to join. The way would be open for Erdogan to achieve his desires. The autocratic regime thus consolidated would move forward to suppress all dissent. It may then be inevitable that the opposition radicalizes and even turns violent. The country may be driven into chaos on an unprecedented scale. Such chaos may prompt the military to resume a political role and seize power in one way or another. Military rule may not be worse than civil war, but it would surely bring about consequences much worse than the military coup in 1980.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman