Just five months after its last major election, Turkey is going to the polls again.
The Justice and Development AK Party in government has had to readjust after the end of its 13 years of one-party rule; the peace process with the Kurds has collapsed and Turkey has come under attack from ISIL.
Critics of President Erdogan suggest that the PKK conflict has been somehow initiated by him to try to erode the Kurdish-dominated HDP.
We talked to the editor of Turkey’s number one newspaper in English, Hurriyet.
Murat Yetkin said: “On November 1st, President Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party will try to win back an absolute majority in parliament.”
Erdogan keenly wants to change Turkey’s constitution so that the president would have greater powers.
Our correspondent Bora Bayraktar asked: “Conditions have changed dramatically since the last elections. The peace process has stopped and terrorist action has escalated. How do you think this will be reflected in the elections?”
Yetkin said: “We have had the PKK relaunching attacks, the military reacting to them forcefully, and killings, funerals and human rights being violated. It’s like the 1990s. The ruling Justice and Development is pushing for a majority in this four-party parliament. Its members wonder whether it will be possible to have a one-party government again. If that happens, it will only be by a small margin. But that will be enough for President Erdogan, because in that case he will act as if we have a presidential system — without going through a constitutional reform. He thinks he will be de facto president as long as the AK Party remains in power.”
“What do you see as the worst-case and best-case scenarios after the elections?”
Yetkin: “Well, the worst case would be to need still another round of elections. Turkey has already lost 2015 in terms of investments. We would lose 2016 too. And we can not know how many years this uncertainty will persist. Because the constitution allows it to continue. If the AK Party fails to win a one-party majority, then we will have a coalition government. There are two possibilities for a coalition government. One is to have the AKP with the MHP nationalists and the other to have the AKP with the CHP republicans. The AKP with CHP scenario would be a consensus coalition which Turkey has not had for many years. This consensus coalition would bring the two main political streams of Turkey together. This coalition model looks highly likely to produce a democratic constitution, which would definitely not be a constitution for a presidential system.”
Syrian refugees and Russian air power skirting the borders are less in discussion than Turkey’s economic slowdown in the context of these elections, yet remain immediate and pressing problems for the next government.