Turkey’s new-look parliament opens as coalition nears

Agence France-Presse
Turkey’s new-look parliament opens as coalition nears
The meeting also fires a starting shot for the parties' formal efforts to agree a coalition after an election seen as one of the seismic events in Turkish politics in recent decades

ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey’s new parliament on Tuesday, June 23, holds its first session after elections in which the ruling party lost its overall majority, with the contours of a coalition government becoming clearer but far from agreed.

The results of the June 7 vote mean that Turkey is bracing for a coalition for the first time since the ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002.

The opening of the single-chamber parliament, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, is a largely ceremonial affair, with each of the 550 deputies individually swearing oath in a marathon event starting at midday GMT that risks dragging on into the early hours of the morning.

But the meeting also fires a starting shot for the parties’ formal efforts to agree a coalition after an election seen as one of the seismic events in Turkish politics in recent decades.

It also starts the process to elect the new parliament speaker, with parties set to propose their candidates in the next five days.

While the AKP emerged as the largest party, the results were a blow not only to its authority but also President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had been hoping the new parliament would agree on a new constitution to cement his powers.

The elections were seen as clipping the wings of Erdogan, who served as premier from 2003-2014 before becoming president last year and is now based in a vast and controversial new presidential palace on the outskirts of Ankara.

The AKP have 258 seats in the 550-seat parliament, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) 132, and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) 80 apiece.

‘Avoid another election’

Turkish media reports have said that Erdogan will this week give Prime Minister and AKP leader Ahmet Davutoglu the mandate to form the new government.

Should the parties fail to form a coalition within 45 days, Erdogan can then call early elections, an option he has warned he will use should the talks fail.

But Turkish markets, which took a beating in the wake of the polls on fears of instability, will be hoping for a swift resolution to the uncertainty.

“Our thesis is that we will avoid another election and a credible coalition will be formed around mid July,” said the chief Turkey equity strategist for Renaissance Capital, Michael Harris.

By far the most likely coalition option is between the AKP and the nationalist MHP, who both share a core voter base of conservatives in the centre of the country.

“Nothing is certain yet. Intentions have been announced by some but no official contact has been made,” an MHP source told Agence France-Presse.

The Posta newspaper claimed at the weekend that agreement had already been reached between the MHP and AKP, with the job of foreign minister set to go to former presidential candidate and MHP MP Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu.

Davutoglu denied that any deal had been reached but after a bruising election campaign insisted he was open to a coalition.

“Our doors are not closed, our mind is not closed, our ears are not closed, our heart is not closed,” he said. – Burak Akinci, AFP / Rappler.com

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