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Time running out for Turkey to form coalition government

11 August 2015

Turkey’s AK Parti which lost its parliament majority in this year’s election on 7th June for the first time since it came to power, is still holding coalition talks with the second largest party the Republican People’s Party (CHP).

So far talks have failed to produce agreement on the terms of coalition. However, an opportunity still remains, with both sides announce that a final decision will be announced later on in the week.

The AKP’s failure to win a majority has seen Turkey lapse into political uncertainty, something not experienced since the coalition governments of the 1990’s.

The meeting between the AKP leader, incumbent Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (L), and CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (R) on 10th August lasted over four hours. The first coalition meeting between the two leaders took place on 13th July, when Davutoğlu was given the mandate by President Erdogan to form a coalition government.

Meanwhile, party officials held weeks-long negotiations, which Davutoğlu dubbed as “exploratory talks.”

“The two chairmen will meet again this week on Aug. 13 or Aug. 14 depending on their schedules. Will there be a coalition or not? A clear answer to that question will be given after that meeting,” Culture and Tourism Minister Ömer Çelik, who has been leading the lower-level negotiations for the AKP, told reporters.

Haluk Koç, deputy leader of the CHP, also said the meeting would fall on either dates. Both Çelik and Koç attended the 10th August meeting between their leaders.

Discussions were around forming “a long-lasting reform government,” sources told ‘Hürriyet’ daily. Davutoğlu discussed the idea of a minority government and a government aimed at taking the country to an early election, but the CHP rejected the idea, the same sources said.

Following five sessions of exploratory talks, both the AKP and CHP delegations presented reports to their leaders, classifying issues on which there was consensus, disagreement and close to consensus. These reports shaped content of the meeting.

Kılıçdaroğlu underscored five particular areas to which his party attaches the utmost importance, asking for fundamental changes to be made to the following: foreign policy, economy, education, a new constitution and the Kurdish issue. Kılıçdaroğlu reportedly wants his party to hold at least three of the ministries of the interior, justice, education or foreign ministry, in the case of a government partnership with the AKP.

“If we are to speak of an AKP-CHP coalition, one of the primary conditions is a change of foreign policy. There is a need to look at the Middle East, the EU and other centres of the world, with a new foreign policy based on peace,” Kılıçdaroğlu allegedly told Davutoğlu during the meeting, Hürriyet reported. “We also want primary education to be eight-years long, without interruption,” he said.

Meanwhile, PM Davutoğlu said the membership process with the EU was on track and relations with allies, specifically the United States, have continued within the framework of an alliance relationship. He particularly emphasised Turkey’s active role in the US-led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and refused a fundamental change in foreign policy.

The AKP may approach positively to certain changes in education system; however, they would not any fundamental changes, Davutoğlu also reportedly also told Kılıçdaroğlu.

“As the CHP, we are not after a blood feud. If a possible coalition emerges within the framework of principles set by the CHP, we would not start a hunt targeting the AKP’s 13 year-long rule. Independent judiciary and independent auditing boards would do what is required. In this context, we would also like the process regarding Dec. 17 and 25 [Corruption cases] to be run at the disposal of the free will of the judiciary and lawmakers,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

The December 17 and 25th 2013 mass corruption cases involved four former ministers and their relatives.

Parties have until 23rd August to agree on a working coalition or President Erdoğan could call a new election.

Erdoğan, who has always had his eye on changing the constitution to create an executive presidency, has made little secret of his preference for single-party rule. An enhancement of the president’s role brought about by constitutional change would furnish Erdoğan with even more power.

Hurriyet

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