Erdogan might get a second chance, but AKP’s future is bleak

What the Arabic press is saying about the political scenario in Turkey.

Mr Erdogan’s erratic moves earned him many detractors. Murad Sezer / Reuters
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Most analysts laid most of the blame for the AKP’s poor results in Turkey’s parliamentary elections on president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, wrote Abdul Wahhab Badrakhan in the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

They didn’t blame the party or the government, he added. For, it was Mr Erdogan, formerly a pillar of the AKP’s popularity, who became the cause of its decline. Though it won the most seats in parliament, it was still not enough to form a government.

The electoral test came at a bad time for Mr Erdogan, who has not completed even the first year of his seven-year presidential term. The AKP has had many achievements in the past 13 years, but Mr Erdogan’s erratic moves earned him many detractors, Badrakhan said.

But the fact that the party won the most seats means that nearly half the electorate still bet on the AKP, though a significant number of voters also wanted to warn the president against arrogance.

If anything, the poll results revealed that the electorate wanted the ruling party to stay in government so long as it modifies its modus operandi. This would mean checks and balances, including the aspiration to expand the president’s executive powers, no cover ups with regard to corruption allegations involving some AKP members and attempts to undermine the secular system. The traditional opposition, which is secular and nationalist, also blames the party for abandoning the attempt to join the European Union, the rash decision to support Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the involvement in Syria, Badrakhan noted.

Although analysts admit that the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) played a role in the AKP’s fall, they argued that this was inevitable as the Kurds could be expected to vote for a party that supports their cause. It was unlikely that they would do otherwise even though Mr Erdogan was the first politician to allow the party to take part in the political process and to dare to address the Kurdish issue.

Badrakhan went on to say that, for about a century, Turkey’s Kurds were looking for recognition. Now, thanks to the elections, that recognition has become a reality. Had president Erdogan not stopped half way through the settlement process, the election might have ended differently. The Kurds, after the election, have become a lobby. Although the HDP attracted many voters who wanted to thwart the efforts to move to the presidential system, it is cognisant of a basic fact: that fulfilling the Kurds’ demands is dependent on Mr Erdogan because there is no other leader who can make a deal with them.

All the signs point to a snap election, but rushing to it could bring even more dissatisfaction with the AKP to the fore.

Instead, Badrakhan suggested that the two available options must be exhausted: a coalition government, which only seems possible with the Kurdish party, or a minority government that functions as best as it can until the need for early elections becomes clear.

Writing for the Jordan-based daily Addustour, Oraib Al Rantawi argued that it is difficult to believe that president Erdogan was forced to admit electoral defeat. But soon enough, he probably overcame the shock and started to read summaries analysing the election results as just a “setback”.

Mr Erdogan is the kind of a leader who does not accept defeat easily. So he is certainly gearing up for one of his fiercest counter-attacks, the kind for which he is famous.

It’s true that he took four days – of silence – to accept the election results. And yes, he called on the parties to enter into a coalition government for the greater good and without thought to partisan politics. But many observers are on tenterhooks wondering what he is up to, said Al Rantawi. The president could ask the prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, to form a new government despite the defeat suffered by the AKP under his uncharismatic leadership. But the question is, will cross-party talks reflect serious efforts for the common good? Or will they be a sham to show the people that the AKP is observing both the formalities and the rules of democracy?

If the Turkish opposition rejects the AKP’s terms for forming a government, the president is unlikely to ask the second-biggest party, the Republican People’s Party, to form a government, given the mutual mistrust and the AKP’s fear that embarrassing “cases” involving the party, the role in Syria and ties with the Muslim Brotherhood might be opened.

If the opposition forms a government, Mr Erdogan’s political career will hang in the balance (some say the elections have already meant that he is finished as a leader).

Early elections might be Mr Erdogan’s last chance to stay in power. But there are no guarantees that the results would be any better than this time round and that the AKP would get to govern on its own, let alone increasing the president’s powers.

* Translated by Abdelhafid Ezzouitni