Turkish politics could be set for a shake up

While the tension in politics would normally be expected to decrease with parliament in summer recess, Turkey is still experiencing significant developments on both the ruling and the opposition fronts.

The Future and DEVA parties - established respectively by Ahmet Davutoğlu and Ali Babacan, who both broke with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) - are seen as future members of the Nation Alliance, consisting of the main opposition Republican People´s Party (CHP), the Good (İYİ) Party, the Felicity Party (SP), and the Democrat Party (DP).

As a matter of fact, İYİ Party leader Meral Akşener held a meeting with Babacan for nearly two hours on Wednesday. Although there was no statement about the alliance at the joint press conference held after the meeting, the subject was reportedly discussed during the talks. Akşener is set to visit Davutoğlu next week.

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is reportedly considering supporting Babacan as the joint presidential candidate of the Nation Alliance in the next election.

However, at this point, the initiative of the CHP's 2018 presidential candidate Muharrem İnce to establish a new opposition movement outside of the CHP has been drawing attention.

Noting that he will make “breakthrough statements” at a press conference on Thursday in Ankara, İnce said, “I am not establishing a party, I am initiating a movement, I will travel all over Anatolia, city by city”. Although the CHP administration has been trying to stop the move, İnce has not backed down.

While politics and media are focused on İnce’s plans, the commemoration of the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) 19th anniversary on Friday - which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will attend - has been brought forward a day in order to overshadow İnce's announcement.

On the same day, Akşener and Kılıçdaroğlu will attend an opening ceremony of İzmit municipality. Thus, there is an effort from both the ruling and the opposition blocs to push İnce down the agenda.

On the other hand, Erdoğan’s support of his political ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Develet Bahçeli’s call to Akşener and others who broke off from the MHP to “come back home” and join the ruling People's Alliance suggests it is losing power and seeking fresh blood.

“If they want support the transition to a strengthened parliamentary system, we will consider it,” Akşener responded.

Erdoğan is aware of the fact that, without the support of the MHP, the ruling AKP would lack a parliamentary majority and is concerned about a post-Bahçeli era, with rumours about the MHP leader’s poor health.

Erdoğan had previously described Akşener as a “traitor” and accused her of getting instructions from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The fact that he is now sending her messages of solidarity show his concerns about the MHP and Bahçeli. 

Statements by Erdoğan and Bahçeli supporting Ince's new initiative is another attempt to weaken the CHP, which forms the backbone of the opposition bloc. İnce's political attitude and his announcements have gained importance in this respect.

The new developments as well as a worsening economy have led to the desperation of the government. Based on the approach that, as the economy deteriorates, support for the ruling party erodes, the opposition is trying to bolster its alliance - predicting that this situation will eventually force the government to call snap elections. It is noteworthy that Kılıçdaroğlu and Davutoğlu both raised the Kurdish question recently, in a possible attempt to widen support.

Although Erdoğan recently tried to create the perception of economic success and prosperity by comparing the sales figures of refrigerators, washing machines and ovens of 2002 and 2019, this rhetoric is no longer effective for a society that is tired of economic problems.

Turkey's Treasury and Finance Ministry announced the budget deficit was 30.8 billion liras ($4.2 billion) in July, exceeded 140 billion liras in the January-July period, and was 10 billion liras above the 2019 deficit. These figures show how depleted the 2020 budget is, and that the end of the road is visible.

In short, as Turkey’s economy worsens, politics becomes more febrile. The upcoming weeks could herald significant developments in Turkey.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.