Prime Minister Davutoglu began coalition talks with the three opposition parties - the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP) and the Republican People’s Party (CHP) – on 13 July. If the parties cannot form a Government within 45 days then new elections will take place. All three opposition parties are hesitant about supporting an AKP-led Government since they have opposed introducing an executive Presidency and they fear they would be tainted by graft allegations against the AKP.
Indeed, Davutoglu said that the MHP would not enter a coalition following a meeting with its party leader Devlet Bahceli on 14 July. The MHP had appeared to be the party most likely to cooperate with the Justice and Development Party (AKP -see our last Report) and so this development increases the likelihood that new elections will be held, although Davutoglu noted that fresh talks could be held if necessary. Furthermore, an AKP-commissioned poll has indicated that the party’s support would grow if another vote is held. President Erdogan may therefore attempt to stall the process in the hope that this will boost his chances of introducing an executive Presidency. The current political uncertainty consequently appears set to persist in the coming days and possibly weeks. MORE>>
Moreover, if new elections are called the AKP will be keen to win support at the HDP’s expense, since it would benefit most if the pro-Kurdish party failed to overcome the 10% threshold needed to enter Parliament. Erdogan may therefore seek to provoke unrest in the South-East in a bid to portray the AKP as the only guarantor of stability and undermine support for the HDP among non-Kurdish voters by portraying it as linked to militancy. He could therefore order increased security operations in the South-East and organise pro-AKP rallies in Kurdish or mixed cities.
This comes amid continued tensions and low-level violence in the predominantly Kurdish South-East. On 11 July the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK, a banned umbrella organisation for Kurdish groups) warned it would target dams built for military purposes if the Government failed to halt its construction of such facilities. Meanwhile, on 14 July suspected Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants carried out an arson attack against a cement mixer in the south-eastern Agri Province.
Then, on 12 July, one civilian died in a shooting between with the security forces in Ardahan Province in the North-East. Separately, the police detained 32 alleged PKK members in Istanbul on 10 July, also seizing homemade explosives and firearms, while another PKK supporter was detained on 1 July in Izmir, carrying 14 kg of explosives and a firearm. A failure of coalition talks could lead this violence to escalate and trigger more sustained unrest and violence in the South-East. This might occasionally affect areas of Istanbul and Ankara that have Kurdish residents but the instability is likely to be focused in the South-East, restricting the collateral threat for most businesses operating in Turkey.