June 9, 2015 | Policy Brief

Turkey After the Elections

June 9, 2015 | Policy Brief

Turkey After the Elections

In Turkey’s election on Sunday, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its parliamentary majority for the first time in 13 years, and will be unable to form the next government on its own. The AKP now has 45 days to form a government or Turkey will need to hold another election within six months.

A government may now be formed in two ways: the AKP could find a coalition partner with which to form a majority government, or it could form a minority government through a vote of confidence. Either option faces major obstacles, and presages instability in Ankara.

The AKP needs only one coalition partner to achieve a simple majority. Much depends on whether President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dials back his political meddling, which is a precondition for any party to join the AKP. The most likely coalition prospect is the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), but the AKP would need to give significant concessions – particularly to scale back the ongoing peace process with the Kurds.

Meanwhile, the runner-up People’s Republican Party (CHP) – the leftist, secularist antithesis of the AKP – has expressed its desire to lead a coalition of opposition parties. Such a coalition, however, would require three parties. Awkwardly, the aforementioned MHP nationalists would need to reconcile their differences with the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP).

Should the AKP try to form a minority government, it will need to persuade opposition deputies to support it in a vote of confidence, thereby enabling the party to operate with less than a simple majority. But this is not only a maneuver available to the AKP. If the AKP fails, the CHP may try to do the same.

All of these scenarios require laborious inter-party negotiations, which could quite easily fail. This raises the very real possibility of early elections.

For now, the AKP appears ready to negotiate as a means to stay in power. If this is the case, the party will be forced to respect Turkey’s democracy. Its failure to do so in the past is exactly what brought the AKP to this difficult crossroads.

Merve Tahiroglu is a research associate at Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Find her on Twitter: @MerveTahiroglu