Turkey's AKP gambles on new elections

Turkey's AKP gambles on new elections
2 min read
19 August, 2015
Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu has returned the mandate to form a government to the President, making new elections increasingly likely.
PM Davutoglu returned the mandate to form a government to President Erdogan [Anadolu]

After failing to secure a parliamentary majority in June and weeks of failed coalition talks, Turkish Prime Minister and Justice and Development Party (AKP) chairman, Ahmet Davutoglu has returned the mandate to form a government to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, putting the country on course for new elections this autumn.

Erdogan could now hand the mandate to form the government to the Republican People's Party (CHP), which came second in the elections, however it is unlikely given his reported opposition to a coalition government.

Last week, while PM Davutoglu, a former foreign minister and Erdogan adviser, was conducting coalition talks, the CHP's leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, accused Erdogan of obstructing the coalition efforts - a view shared by many but denied by Erdogan.

Erdogan is apparently betting that this time around the AKP, a party he founded and led for more than a decade and retains considerable power over the party apparatus, could reverse its losses.

Opponents have accused Erdogan of launching the military operations against the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in a bid to win nationalists' support and discredit a pro-Kurdish party, whose gains in the June election deprived the AKP of its majority.

Last week, Erdogan cited the violence - which has wrecked a nearly three-year old peace process - in stressing the need for a strong government.

The government rejects any political motivation behind the military strikes, insisting that the operations were launched in response to PKK attacks on police and the military.

"The gamble is that the people will go back to the safe embrace of the AKP," said Svante Cornell, Director of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute.

But a new election at a time of escalating violence between Turkey's security forces and Kurdish rebels - and amid Turkey's deeper involvement in the US-led campaign against the Islamic State group (IS) - could backfire.

"To go the polls at a time when people are being killed every single day can have a downside," said Sinan Ulgen, chairman of the Istanbul-based EDAM think tank. "The arithmetic in Parliament won't necessarily change."