Turkey fails to form coalition, so what comes next?

If no new coalition partner is found by the end of next week, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to use his right to call for early election

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It was announced on Aug. 13 that weeks-long coalition talks between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) - which lost its parliamentary majority in June elections - and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) ended in failure.

This means Turkey now faces early elections due in autumn. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said snap elections seem to be “the only option” left.

If no new coalition partner is found by the end of next week, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to use his right to call for early elections.

In the latest meeting with Davutoglu, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) rejected forming a government with the AKP.

Security implications

The increasing political uncertainty coincides with a mounting cross-border insurgencies from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“Early elections will have serious consequences for Turkey’s security situation in the short run for three reasons,” said Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, director of the Ankara office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

First, a new ceasefire with the PKK would be perceived by some voters as a sign of weakness, so it would be difficult to achieve during an election campaign.

“Second, the AKP is expected to increase its nationalistic rhetoric in order to regain the votes lost to the MHP during the last election, which won’t help decrease political tension,” Unluhisarcikli said.

Third, while the PKK did not react to frequent attacks against offices and rallies of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) during the last election, it would be naive to expect it to remain silent this time, presenting any third party with an opportunity to exacerbate political tensions.

“The formation of a coalition government could’ve prevented these negative developments to a large extent,” Unluhisarcikli said.

Domestic, foreign policy

Ersin Kalaycioglu, professor of political science from Sabanci University in Istanbul, said seven out of the 18 general elections Turkey has had since 1946, when the country began to democratize, were early elections.

However, Kalaycioglu said the current political circumstances are different, as the presence of a popularly elected partisan president does not support the prospect of a coalition government.

“The current situation has contributed to the primacy of domestic politics that has become deeply tied to the political career concerns of a few political elites in the country. Foreign policy decisions are being made in view of these concerns,” Kalaycioglu told Al Arabiya News.

“The government wanted to pressure the PKK in Iraq and Syria to relinquish its grip on territory to the south of the Turkish border with Syria. Thus the AKP caretaker government has moved to accept the offer of the Obama administration to help its campaign against ISIS to also fight against PKK strongholds in Syria.”

Kalaycioglu said the current caretaker government was promoting the creation of a safe haven from ISIS and the PKK south of the Turkish-Syrian border, which will operate under the vigil of Ankara.

However, he said only a newly and legitimately elected National Assembly and its government could create a new foreign policy for Turkey toward the Middle East.

“Turkey is drifting in a state of uncertainty and increasing tension in domestic politics. The AKP opted to gamble with an unprecedented repeat election to convince voters that unless they vote the AKP to power, they won’t form a coalition government,” Kalaycioglu said.

“Until then, Turkey will be in a state of political uncertainty and arbitrary rule, which won’t create new domestic policies or foreign policy.”

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