Turkish media reports on Friday have suggested the possibility of a coalition between the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has highly increased.
It follows the election of new parliament speaker Ismet Yilmaz, the AK Party’s candidate for the post, with help of the MHP’s neutrality during the fourth round of voting at the expense of main opposition party candidate Deniz Baykal.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who led the AK Party as prime minister for 11 years, will initially ask AK Party leader Ahmet Davutoglu - as the the leader of the largest party in the Turkish parliament - to form a government next week.
Turkish media have reported that a coalition agreement between the AK Party and the MHP is almost certain following the election of the speaker despite Davutoglu’s earlier comments suggesting that election of parliamentary speaker and coalition formation talks are unrelated matters.
The reports claim that MHP leader Devlet Bahceli accepted an arrangement in which he would not directly participate the coalition government, but would remain leader of his party.
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, MHP’s candidate for parliamentary speaker, would be given the post of deputy prime minister in this scenario. Ihsanoglu was previously jointly nominated by the MHP as well as the Republican People’s Party (CHP) to run for the Turkish presidency against Erdogan in 2014.
The reports say that both the AK Party and MHP officials have also been discussing almost all of the other details concerning this coalition scenario.
However, Bahceli - who is known for cultivating an image of a tough-minded hardliner - has publicly strongly refused to agree to any talks with the AK Party.
At the same time, there is speculation that Bahceli has privately signaled his willingness for a coalition with the AK Party if the AK Party accepts three conditions which were raised at the party’s latest conference of the party by Bahceli.
The conditions raised were “suspending the Kurdish-Turkish peace process [Resolution Process],” “opening corruption and graft files connected to the investigations of December 17-25,” and “limiting [President] Erdogan’s authority under constitutional rules.”
Vice chairman of the MHP, Mevlut Karakaya, previously signalled a possible coalition with the AK Party by saying that no government can be formed without the AK Party.
Speaking to BBC Turkish, Karakaya said, “As we look at the election results, we see that the electorate gave 258 deputies to the AK Party but also took the majority from them. The nation decided not to let the AK Party be in charge of the government alone.”
“However, we cannot consider a coalition option without the AK Party at this point,” Karakaya added.
If the opposition parties decide to form a governing coalition without the Ak Party, the CHP and MHP - which only have 212 seats between them - need the support of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). The nationalists have consistently rejected such a coalition with the HDP.
Therefore a coalition between the three parties does not seem to be possible.
"How can we form a government with the political messenger of a terrorist organisation which ruthlessly kills babies, soldiers, police officers and thousands of innocent citizens?" Bahceli said earlier last week.
In addition, AK Party spokesman Besir Atalay said on Monday that according to polls carried out by his party its grassroots supporters prefer the AK Party to form a coalition with the MHP.
The incumbent AK Party won 258 seats in parliament out of 550 in Turkey’s June 7 election, thus falling 18 seats short of the number necessary form a majority government.
If Prime Minister Davutoglu of the Ak Party is unable to form a coalition with any of the other three parties in parliament, none of which have indicated they would be willing to join the AK Party in government, tradition dictates the president should offer the second-placed party the chance to create an administration.
If neither the AK Party nor the CHP are able to form a government within 45 days, the president must call for a fresh election and appoint a prime minister within five days in order to form an interim government consisting of representatives from all four parties according to their number of deputies.
Once this interim government has been approved by a parliamentary vote of confidence, the assembly will be dissolved and the election process restarted.