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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/9/15

Turkey: Already preparing for the playoffs

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In principle, such a heavy artillery should have guaranteed a resounding triumph for AKP. Erdogan had in his numerous rallies exhorted the population to "give him 400 seats" in the parliament, an extremely optimistic expectation. But Erdogan had been elected president in the 2014 elections with 52 percent of the votes, and overconfidence prevailed within the party. This probably fired back, at the last moment, among moderate Islamists who resent exuberant and too-assertive leadership behaviour.

Erdogan's objective in the June 2015 elections was to secure at least 367 MPs. This would have given him free hand to change the Constitution by AKP representatives alone. The line of retreat was 330 seats, which would have still enabled Erdogan to call a referendum for the change. The 258 seats now obtained fall even short of the 276 threshold for having majority in order to run the government.

The scope of a new Constitution was to approve the adoption of an Executive Presidential regime, which would grant Erdogan full control over state affairs on a daily basis. The current Constitution, introduced after a military coup in 1980, limits the presidency to a ceremonial role.

Erdogan's vision for a presidential system has certainly been frustrated. But a careful study of his personality leads to the belief that he will pursue his aspirations, albeit with some postponement in their achievement.

AKP, having obtained the highest number of votes, will be asked to form either a coalition government, or a minority one, provided that at least one of the opposition parties commit to supporting it in the parliament. The only likely candidate for this is MHP, an ultra-nationalist formation with strong Islamic membership, which grants it a common denominator with AKP. But MHP has repeatedly affirmed that it will never concede to a presidential system. However, in Turkish politics 'never' does not always imply what the word says.

An alternative to the above scenario is a coalition between CHP, MHP and HDP, totalling 292 MPs. This is rather unlikely, especially because of the anti-Kurdish ideology of MHP's constituency. Moreover, coalitions have historically failed in Turkey, so a new one would be a recipe for instability.

In either case, the president will be the sole judge for accepting or rejecting the solution proposed by the parties. If there is no successful proposal within 45 days, a new election will be held in the following two months. If a coalition, or minority government is formed, its life span will be short, considering Turkey's present realities.

The economy is in decline, foreign direct investment and exports have sharply dropped since the beginning of the year, and foreign relations with Middle Eastern neighbours, the EU and the U.S. are problematic. Istanbul Stock Exchange opened on Monday with a 6 percent loss, while the Turkish lira declined by 4.5 percent, bringing the total depreciation of the currency in respect to the U.S. dollar to 19 percent since January 2015 and to 45 percent in 18 months.

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Jacques Couvas Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

J N Couvas is an academic, journalist, and an international corporate and political adviser, specialising in Middle East and Balkan affairs. He teaches international strategy and executive leadership at universities in the region.

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