The coalition experience

The most recent coalition government was formed in May 1999 in Turkey. Therefore, those who are below age 30 donand’t have any idea about how a coalition government is formed. andquotCoalitionandquot was the top word searched on google.com when the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) lost its parliamentary majority in the June 7 election. It follows that a significant number of young voters didnand’t know what would happen if the AK Party was toppled.
Coalition governments do not have a bright past. The coalition government that was at the helm of the country during the three-and-a-half years from 1999 to the AK Partyand’s coming to power in 2002 was remembered with an economic crisis, excessive military intervention and harsh debates within the coalition. The shadows of coalition governments dominated the 1990s and crises accompanied it. It is not a piece of cake for several parties to find harmony in government amid harsh political debates and polarization. Still, the people who believe that coalition governments are more aantageous in every respect than the autocratic administration that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refers to as the andquotTurkish-type presidential systemandquot are in the majority. The experience for each period is shaped by its own context. Today, a coalition government may prove more capable of restoring peace and conciliation in the country.
The coalition government formed between Sanduleyman Demirel and Erdal inandOnandu in 1991 worked in a harmonious manner, perhaps thanks to inandOnanduand’s humble personality. However, its economic policies failed, largely due to Demireland’s populist approach, dragging the country into the 1Dogan crisis. Later, the personal incompatibility of Tansu andciller and Mesut Yilmaz, the leaders of two center-right parties, eventually led to many people developing a strong dislike of coalition governments. In 2002, Erdogan built its 13-year power on these bad memories.
Today, the circumstances are quite different. The AK Party has to be extremely moderate and conciliatory in order to stay in power and protect itself. Self-protection is a priority issue because the opposition parties are very motivated to investigate allegations of corruption. From the first day, the re-trial of four former ministers who were implicated in graft and bribery scandals that were whitewashed by the AK Party government was voiced as one of the prerequisites for a coalition. Therefore, the AK Party may be more lenient and careful.
A clash of interests among the coalition members was the instability at the root of coalition governments of the past. Today, the constitutional and legal system that was undermined by Erdogan must be restored as a prerequisite for a coalition government. Given the fact that the government will be subject to this restored system, we can say that the law has become the most critical prerequisite, not only for fundamental rights and freedoms, but also for a rational and predictable administration. For this reason, the primary duty of the new government will to be to ensure that the parliamentary system is put back on the right track and that natural review mechanisms function properly. Then, the government will be subject to those rules. This makes a coalition government a very attractive option for those who are looking for stability, particularly the business world. It will no longer be possible to change the system of fundamental rights and freedom with omnibus bills. Decrees that sideline Parliament to empower the government with legislative power will be a thing of the past. Erdogan knows what the real conditions required for coalition governments are and therefore, he emerged as a paragon of peace and conciliation in the wake of the election. Now, he cannot get what he wants with threats. If he does not make sure that the parliamentary system — to which he once referred as and”in the waiting roomandquot — functions smoothly and if he does not comply with the confines the parliamentary system sets for him, he cannot exercise his own powers and authorities. It is suggested that Erdoganand’s plan is to allow the nation to experience once again the disaantages of coalition governments.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman