Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—A high-level Turkish official has warned the country’s opposition parties that their attempts to “humiliate” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were “unacceptable” and would not lead to a coalition government.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, the official criticized the conditions made by the country’s largest opposition parties to form a coalition with the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which Erdoğan founded, and led for more than 13 years, including 11 as prime minister.
The AKP lost its overall majority in Turkey on June 7, winning 40.9 percent of the vote, while the two largest opposition parties, the center–left Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), won 25 percent and 16.3 percent of the vote respectively.
Both parties have demanded Erdoğan, who officially no longer has any connection to the AKP—though in a highly criticized move attended the party’s pre-election rallies—vacate the newly built Ak Saray (White Palace) on the outskirts of Ankara, a sprawling 615 million US dollar, 1,000-room presidential palace, seen by many in Turkey as a symbol of Erdoğan’s authoritarianism and extravagance.
Both parties have asked Erdoğan to return to the old presidential seat, the more modest Çankaya presidential palace in central Ankara.
The opposition parties have also asked Erdoğan to stop “meddling” in government affairs. Since winning the presidency in August 2014, Erdoğan has transformed the previously largely ceremonial post to a more “hands on” role, chairing cabinet meetings by invoking seldom-used constitutional powers and playing a greater role in government policy, moves which have drawn stringent criticism from Turkey’s opposition.
Opposition parties warned voters in the build-up to the June 7 polls that a win for the AKP during the elections would give even more power to the party and Erdoğan and threaten Turkey’s democracy.
According to Turkey’s constitution, a coalition government must now be formed within 45 days since no single party has won the 60-percent majority needed to govern. If the parties fail to form a government within the specified timeframe, Turkey will face a snap vote—which polls are indicating would give the AKP enough seats to govern at the second time of asking.
On Monday, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the CHP, said said he believed opposition parties—”the 60 percent bloc”—should now form the next government, without the AKP.
However, even together, the CHP, MHP, and the pro-Kurdish left-wing People’s Democratic Party (HDP)—the fourth-largest party after the polls with 13.1 percent of the vote—may not be able to form the next government, having collectively fallen just short of the 60 percent needed to govern.
Observers also believe it unlikely the three parties could form a coalition together since they are deeply divided on ideological grounds.