Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced snap elections, possibly to be held on November 1, following interim Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu abandoning efforts to create a coalition government. “We will take our country to an early election”, Erdogan announced from Ankara today.
Davutoglu was forced into into coalition talks with opposition parties following the elections in June, which saw the ruling AKP party lose its supermajority. Talks with the most likely coalition contender, the social democratic CHP party, broke down – shattering any chance for a national unity coalition.
This move will make Erdogan the first president to call snap polls since Turkey became a republic in 1923.
With the country partnering with the US to embark on action against ISIS, this is a potentially difficult time for an election.
A president’s motives
The left-leaning parties have made no secret that they wish to curb President Erdogan’s increasingly autocratic rule and the stealthy introduction of religious principles into Turkish politics. And voters agreed, with many AKP voters turning to pro-Kurdish party HDP, threatening Erodgan’s dominance in Turkish politics.
Erdogan has been clear in his objectives to use an AKP supermajority to transform his ceremonial role into an executive-style presidency. Now, he’s hoping to turn voters who swung to left in the June elections back to the AKP, counting on the fact that many voters won’t wish to see another hung government.
Political commentators say that Erdogan’s strategy is a risky one, with a strong chance of backfire. Recent polls show the AKP party is losing ground, while the HDP remains strong and the opposition CHP gaining points. Presently it looks like a new election would yield near-identical results to the June election, with no clear majority and the need to form a coalition government.
This is a result that would undoubtedly leave Erdogan in an even weaker position as it would mean the AKP party would have little choice but to finally form a coalition between AKP and CHP, and as a result, curb Erdogan’s powers.
Turkey’s strongest partnership, with its NATO ally the United States, is also its most important strategic partner in the region. Likewise, Turkish relations are equally important to the US. Now that the two countries have teamed up to launch an anti-ISIS offensive, ties are stronger than ever.
While the countries have overlapping interests in the Middle East and Europe, the strain of an election, coupled with each countries differing military aims, might put distance between the two nations.
Impact on the Turkish economy
Turkey’s strong economy and bureaucracy means it is equipped to weather political storms. The stockmarket and the Lira have taken a pummeling over the last few weeks as coalition talks struggled and then failed and it’s likely the currency will see further fluctuations before and after the November election. However, growth forecasts remain stable for the rest of the year and the close of the year will likely show an improvement over 2014 with growth of 3.1 percent.
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