Turkey’s Opposition Adds Pressure as AKP Seeks Coalition

ssTurkey’s nationalist opposition party ruled out joining a coalition with the AK Party, adding pressure on Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to find a governing partner to avoid early elections.

“Right now, a coalition for us is out of the question,” Zuhal Topcu, deputy chairman of the Nationalist Movement Party, said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

If MHP sticks to that position, the rejection cuts the number of possible partners for the AK Party, which lost its parliamentary majority in Sunday’s election for the first time since 2002. Yasin Aktay, AKP’s foreign affairs chief, said a coalition will probably emerge eventually.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a former prime minister and AK Party chief, can call for an early vote if no party is able to form a government within 45 days of the premier being officially designated. He is scheduled to meet Davutoglu at 5 p.m. local time in Ankara on Tuesday.

Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish HDP, ruled out a coalition with the Islamic-rooted AKP on Tuesday. The secular Republican People’s Party, or CHP, is open for talks, said Sezgin Tanrikulu, deputy chairman of CHP.

“If MHP is saying no to a coalition with AK Party, then it will be very difficult for the AK Party to reach an agreement with CHP because there is a serious issue of incompatibility,” said Mehmet Sahin, an analyst with the Ankara-based Institute of Strategic Thinking. “That would mean early elections, because a minority government would not really work.”
The uncertainty was reflected in financial markets. The lira swung between gains and losses on Tuesday after weakening to a record a day earlier. It was little changed at 2.7490 a dollar at 1:57 p.m.

AKP’s setback dealt a blow to Erdogan’s plans to remake Turkey’s political system, shifting the center of power from parliament to his office.
“There is an elected president who is acting in violation of the constitution,” Topcu said as she explained her party’s decision to rule out a coalition with the AK Party. The MHP is also “totally against” the ongoing peace process with the Kurds.

Many MHP supporters say making concessions for peace with Kurdish rebels could divide the country along ethnic lines. The fighting between Turkish troops and autonomy-seeking rebels has killed tens of thousands of people since 1984.

It’s too early to speak with any certainty about possible party coalition combinations, but “all options are on the table,” Aktay, the AKP foreign affairs chief, said in Ankara.

“There will probably be a coalition emerging eventually,” said Aktay. AK Party is “not dismissing any option. It’s not right to make big statements and shut the door too early.”