Negotiations between Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) to form a coalition government ended in failure on Thursday.
Turkey’s prime minister and leader of the AK Party Ahmet Davutoglu and CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu held a meeting at 2 pm local time (1100 GMT) to announce the final result of the negotiations in Turkey’s capital Ankara.
Speaking to the press after the meeting, Davutoglu said, “We offered to form a reform government with the CHP for a limited time in order to hold an early election. However, the CHP stated its desire to form a long-term coalition government. Considering the current situation, we see no ground on which to form a coalition government due to the different demands of our voter bases.”
Davutoglu also said, “The most viable or only way to provide permanent stability for our nation is respecting the nation’s will. If we go to an early election, as in fact it seems like we will, everyone should act maturely.”
Following Davutoglu’s statement, CHP leader Kilicdaroglu also held a press meeting in which he said, “We did not receive a coalition offer from the AK Party and PM Davutoglu. They came to us with two options which were a short-term government and support for an AK Party minority government.”
Asked about the option of an early election Kilicdaroglu said, “Democracy is open to solutions. Personally, I do not find it right to see an early election as the only option in front of us.”
The final deadline for negotiations to produce a coalition government is Aug. 24, after which new elections must be called.
How Coalition Talks Started
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave a mandate to Prime Minister Davutoglu to form a new government on July 9, starting a 45 day period during which coalition negotiations must take place. According to the Constitution of Turkey, if an agreement to form a government cannot be reached within this period then an early election must take place.
Davutoglu conducted three meetings with three opposition parties - the CHP, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) - in the first round of coalition negotiations.
After the first round of negotiations ended, talks continued between the AK Party and the CHP, while the MHP announced that it would stay in opposition rather than part in a coalition.
Five Demands of CHP to Form A Coalition Gov't
The CHP renounced 11 out of the 14 conditions it had said must be met for it to form a coalition government and offered two new conditions on July 29.
The leader of the CHP, Kilicdaroglu, mentioned five “crucial” conditions for forming a government, while not speaking of the previous conditions he gave which he appeared to have renounced.
Being given control of the foreign ministry in order to change foreign policy towards Turkey’s “neighbours” such as Israel, establishing a new constitution in order to be freed from the current one launched in 1982 after a military coup, continuing the “Resolution Process” with the PKK, economic reforms and changes to education policy were the latest conditions specified by the CHP.
The AK Party government announced a peace initiative with the PKK named the “Resolution Process” in the beginning of 2013, which followed its previous “Democratic Initiative” launched in 2012. The militant group - which is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, NATO and the EU - initially seemed responsive under the instructions of its jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan.
On June 15, a week after the last general election, the CHP announced 14 conditions including an article regarding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with the intention of preventing him from giving political speeches.
AK Party's 'Red Lines' for Coalition
The AK Party declared their one and only “red line” was the authority of the president and refused to become engaged in the ongoing debates over Erdogan’s role in Turkish politics and the Presidential Palace.
The Presidential Palace was opened in October after Erdogan became the first publicly elected president of Turkey. The palace has been criticised for its costs, especially by the CHP, which has accused it of being equipped with “golden toilets.”
The CHP had previously talked about possible coalition scenarios where it would assume the leading role in government and exclude the AK Party. The CHP even went to the extent of offering the leader of the nationalist MHP, Devlet Bahceli, the position of prime minister despite his part having fewer seats in parliament.
However, the MHP, has denied it would form a coalition which excluding the AK Party. Vice chairman of MHP, Mevlut Karakaya, said on July 18 “As we look at the results of the election, we see that the electorate gave 258 deputies to the AK Party but also took their majority from them. The nation did not allow the AK Party take charge of the government by themselves. However, we cannot consider a coalition without the AK Party.”
Afterwards of June 7 General Election
In Turkey’s general election on June 7 the AK Party kept its leading role by winning 40.8 percent of the vote, the CHP won 24.9 percent, the MHP 16.2 percent, and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) won 13.1 percent of the vote - allowing it to participate in the Turkish parliament as a party for the first time.
An AK Party committee also met with a HDP delegation during the negotiation process, without the aim of forming a coalition government.
Davutoglu implied on July 11 that the AK Party’s delegates and party organisation rejected any coalition with the HDP, as seen from opinion polls and consultations.
After the June 7 general election, co-chairman of the HDP Selahattin Demirtas said that “We won’t hang him, but we will judge him,” talking about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is quite popular among supporters of the AK Party.
A survey by the research company IPSOS published on June 9 showed differences of opinion between Ak Party and HDP voters regarding the formation of a coalition between the parties.
According to the survey, 58 percent of HDP supporters were happy with the possibility of a coalition between the HDP and the AK Party, while only 23 percent of AK Party supporters backed the idea.