The recent suicide bombings created an unforeseeable political environment on the eve of the repetitive elections to be held on November 1st. The governing party of the last decade, the AK Party was looking for extra 20 seats, which would give a parliamentary majority and the control of the new single party government. Meanwhile, the opposition parties were targeting keeping their previous level of popular support. Before the Ankara bombings odds were almost equal for a single party or a coalition government.
The Ankara bombings changed almost everything. The most important effect of that kind of massive terrorist attacks is the change in the public climate. Elections, the rejuvenation time for politics; generally lead to popular optimism and hope for a better future. However, during the economic and political crises, it only brings despair, rather than hope. Terrorist activities create fear in the society.
Fear increases the myopia in the society. Voters tend to be short term oriented, rather than looking for the good of the next generations. It makes people more Xenophobic, very suspicious against the “other” and the “alien”. Every segment of the society is the potential candidate to be the Scape Goat of this negative mood; including victims of the attack. In some segments of the society, especially those are identified with the victims; these attacks also create a fruitful environment for the rage. It is easier to convince these segments to seek for revenge.
Under these circumstances, it is not easy to forecast the shifts in the electorate. It is clear that the HDP, which identifies itself with victims –despite a minority of them were belonging to the Kurdish Party-, will attract some new voters who blame the government as the responsible for the bombings. Meanwhile, it won’t be surprising that the AK Party may also gain some votes from the nationalist and the conservative segments of the society, who are already very suspicious against the “foreign” powers and their “separatist agents”. There is a small probability that the ultra-nationalist party, the MHP may function as a better channel of self-expression for the nationalist wing. On the other hand, this attack may cost some votes to the AK Party, especially in the metropolitan areas and in the Kurdish populated regions.
The social-democratic component of the opposition, the CHP normatively deserves some appreciation, however terrorism limits the vision of the society, especially towards the moderate ones. Hence, it will be surprising to observe an increase in the CHP votes.
The last round of coalition formation negotiations, it’s not an easy task for politicians. If the general elections of the November 1st doesn’t produce a single party government, another episode of failed negotiations will be presented.
The Ankara bombings created an important margin of error for any estimation, based on survey data or on educated guess. However, it’s still almost certain that the AKP will be the key political party in coalition negotiations, since even the most pessimistic estimation gives more than 250 seats to this political party. Thus, the AKP has the highest potential to form a coalition government, with all other three parties are potential partners.
However, each of these potential partners has its own “red lines”, impossible to break in the short term. The CHP and the MHP emphasize on the corruption allegations and the restoration of the parliamentary system by giving a minimal role to the president. Moreover, both parties are very critical about the AKP’s position on the Kurdish Issue, from different perspectives. The CHP stands closer to further liberalization of political rights, giving a degree of local autonomy to the region and accepting the HDP as the counterpart during the negotiations. Meanwhile, the MHP prefers more restrictive policies in the region, putting more emphasis on the military solution and a reform program excluding political rights and ignoring the HDP and the PKK as partners of the negotiation process. Hence, this issue acts as both the most important obstacle upon and facilitator of the coalition building process. It’s clear that the AKP will be very unwilling to accept two important and common premises of the opposition parties, especially about restricting the powers of the president. However, the AKP’s engagement in the political conflict against the PKK during the last summer may give an advantage in the coalition negotiations with the MHP, if it may get some compromise in the corruption and the restoration issues.
From this perspective, both the CHP and the MHP may participate to the coalition government as the minor partner, however after making some compromise in their agenda for the good of the nation.
Since the number of seats of the opposition parties won’t be sufficient to form a two-party coalition government, only mathematically probable options are a three party coalition government or two party minority coalition with the support of the third actor.
Until today, the performance and the rhetoric of the MHP leadership clearly showed that all these options are equally impossible. The MHP positioned itself against the HDP and they refuse to be a partner of a coalition government including the HDP or getting the out-of-government support of the HDP. Hence, there is no viable option on the opposition side.
The last and least probable option is the minority government of the AKP with the support of any political party in the parliament. Considering the level of polarization is society; none of opposition political parties can take a risk of giving the control of the country to the AKP without involving in the decision making process.
If the AKP cannot get the majority, or form a government with or without the CHP or the MHP; the constitution foresees a new repetitive general elections. In such a case, the timetable will be totally uncertain because the last summer’s experience showed that the president can interpret the constitution in a very flexible way. But, I personally believe that, voters won’t hesitate to punish all political actors who twice failed to form a government to rule the country. Hence, if the new general elections occur in March, it is almost certain that some political leaders or even some political parties won’t participate to these elections.