Turkey’s Erdogan doesn’t rule out coalition if no majority

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ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he does not rule out forming a coalition in parliament if his ruling-party led alliance does not win an overall majority in tight polls this weekend.

Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) — running together with its junior partner the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in the so-called People’s Alliance — is expected to win the most seats in Sunday’s dual parliamentary and presidential polls.

But some analysts believe the AKP-led alliance will fail to win a majority in the 600-seat parliament in the face of a strong challenge by the opposition, which has formed its own election pact.

“If the People’s Alliance gets over 300 seats, the issue of (coalitions) is finished,” Erdogan said in an interview with Kral FM and Kral Pop Radio late Wednesday.

“If it is under 300, then we could seek a coalition. That’s a separate matter,” Erdogan said.

The comments were the first clear acknowledgement in the campaign by Erdogan that his election alliance may not be able to win an overall majority in parliament.

However, Erdogan did not indicate with which party he could form a coalition or how difficult the task could be.

“(Coalitions) can be formed. But the possibility of one coming into existence is very, very small,” he added.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has allied with the Islamic Saadet (Felicity) Party and the new Iyi (Good) Party for the elections. All these parties are currently staunchly anti-Erdogan.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is not part of any alliance but despises Erdogan who it accuses of launching a crackdown on its leaders and members.

After the polls, Turkey’s parliamentary system will transform into an executive presidency following constitutional changes approved by a referendum in April 2017.

These changes will expand the powers of the president but also increase the size of Turkey’s parliament from the current 550 MPs to 600.

Losing the parliamentary majority would be seen as a blow to Erdogan, who also faces presidential elections on the same day.

The AKP lost its overall majority once before, in June 2015 legislative elections, and Erdogan then made clear he had no patience for coalitions. He called new elections for November that year where the majority was duly regained.—AFP

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