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Coalition or snap polls? Turkey's scenarios after election shock

AFP , Monday 8 Jun 2015
Erdogan
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (C) looks on after arriving at Esenboga Airport, in Ankara, Turkey, June 8, 2015. (Photo:Reuters)
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A coalition or minority government and early elections are all possibilities as Turkey's political forces weigh an unprecedented situation after the ruling party lost its parliamentary majority in legislative elections.

Turkey's Islamic-rooted ruling party won the biggest portion of the vote in Sunday's polls but lost the parliamentary majority it had held since 2002, delivering a severe blow to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ambition to expand his powers.

For the first time in its 13-year rule, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) must enter coalition talks or call snap elections as the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) easily surpassed the 10 percent barrier needed to send MPs to parliament.

Here are some of the possible options after the poll:

In Turkey, parties without a majority in the parliament have in the past formed minority governments. The AKP, which won 258 seats in the 550-seat parliament, can form a minority government by procuring support from parties and groups from outside during confidence and other specific votes.

But no party has voiced support for such an option yet. Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the third-place Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has already said he would not support Erdogan's minority government from the outside.

"Nobody has a right to sentence Turkey to an AKP minority government," Bahceli said. "Snap elections will happen whenever they happen."

Erdogan also appeared to pour cold water on the idea, saying "no party will be able to govern alone".

Some analysts see a deal between the AKP and the nationalist MHP as the most likely scenario, but they note that it does not necessarily mean a formal coalition.

Both AKP and MHP appeal to similar, conservative-leaning constituencies from poorer parts of the country, but they have a number of differing policies.

The MHP strongly opposes government-led efforts to mediate a peace deal with Kurdish rebels in the southeast as well as Erdogan's interventions in governmental affairs.

Bahceli has shown little enthusiasm for a coalition and said that his party was ready to be a main opposition party if other parties made a deal.

The election results were a big triumph for the HDP, which came in fourth place with 13 percent following an election campaign focusing on promoting democracy, free speech and the rights of women and minorities.

But Selahattin Demirtas, the leader of the HDP, has also ruled out a coalition with the AKP and said the results had put an end to the discussion of an executive presidency championed by Erdogan.

Analysts say that if all other options fail, a tripartite coalition of the second-placed Republican People's Party (CHP), MHP and HDP could be discussed.

Although it seems unlikely due to the seemingly irreconcilable ideological differences between the nationalists and the Kurds.

Should parties fail to form a coalition, the president can by law call a new election any time 45 days from now.

But Numan Kurtulmus, a senior AKP official, said on Monday that a snap election was "the most unlikely" scenario, adding that his party would first try to form a coalition government.

Erdogan broke the constitutional neutrality principle which applies to the head of state by speaking publicly in favour of the AKP party.

Analysts say that this strategy prompted a backlash from the voters, which means it is unlikely that it would work in a snap election.

"Snap elections have always been negative for Turkey and the parties that wanted it in the past ended up losing more ground," said political scientist Ali Carkoglu.

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