Turkey: Elections Again

27 August 2015

The Turkish political scene looks complicated, confusing. Analysts, columnists, pollsters are extremely busy. I believe that the current picture also offers a unique opportunity for analytical brevity.

Turkey held parliamentary elections on June 7, 2015. In the three preceding elections (2002, 2007, 2011) the electorate had given the governing Justice and Development Party (JDP) a parliamentary majority. This time the voters denied them the privilege because they wanted pull in the reins. Their unmistakable message to the JDP was the following:
“You are getting authoritarian and addicted to power. We now want you to share power with another party, preferably with the main opposition Republican People’s Party (RPP). We believe that such a grand coalition can make sure that Turkey remains a parliamentary democracy and upholds national interest rather than ideology in foreign policy.”

The JDP was shocked, but only for a second. No, there was no way they could share power with any other party. There was no way they could ever even think of relinquishing power. They were there to stay. But they had to pretend that they had got the message. So “exploratory talks” with the RPP began. This was an exercise in insincerity which went on for a month and ended in failure as expected. Then there was another attempt with the second opposition party (Nationalist Movement Party – NMP). This was an exercise in futility and marked the end of JDP’s “endeavor” to form a coalition. In the meantime, the 45-day constitutional time frame for the formation of a new government expired.

Turkey will hold new parliamentary elections on November 1, 2015. The Middle East is in turmoil. The Islamic State has become our neighbor. Turkish economy appears to be in trouble. The Turkish Lira is losing value. We have two million Syrian refugees most of whom are to stay for good. Terror is taking its toll. The price for our foreign policy mistakes is going up by the day. Even so, we could not form a coalition.

The JDP has always said that “the will of the people” is supreme. But by forcing a new election the JDP is actually giving the electorate the following message:
“In the last election you denied us a parliamentary majority. So now we are giving you a second opportunity. You better give us that majority or else…”

What is meant by “… or else” falls in the domain of the fortune-teller.

About Ali Tuygan

Ali Tuygan is a graduate of the Faculty of Political Sciences of Ankara University. He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in January 1967. Between various positions in Ankara, he served at the Turkish Embassy in Brussels, NATO International Staff, Turkish Embassies in Washington and Baghdad, and the Turkish Delegation to NATO. From 1986 to 1989 he was the Principal Private Secretary to the President of the Republic. He then served as ambassador to Ottawa, Riyadh, and Athens. In 1997 he was honored with a decoration by the Italian President. Between these assignments abroad he served twice as Deputy Undersecretary for Political Affairs. In 2004 he was appointed Undersecretary where he remained until the end of 2006 before going to his last foreign assignment as Ambassador to UNESCO. He retired in 2009. In April 2013 he published a book entitled “Gönüllü Diplomat, Dışişlerinde Kırk Yıl” (“Diplomat by Choice, Forty Years in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs”) in which he elaborated on the diplomatic profession and the main issues on the global agenda. He has published articles in Turkish periodicals and newspapers.
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