Turkish citizens will head back to the polls in early November, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Friday. The announcement came after Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu formally ended his attempts to form a government and coalition talks failed. In the meantime, Erdoğan will ask Davutoğlu to form an interim power-sharing government.
For weeks, Davutoğlu led talks with opposition parties to come to a consensus about forming a government, but the Aug. 23 deadline passed and the prime minister handed the mandate back over to Erdoğan. The Republican People's Party (CHP), which came second in June's vote, had asked for a mandate to try to form a new government, but Erdoğan instead opted for a "re-run" of the elections.
Erdoğan has previously denied allegations that he had undermined the coalition talks in order to force a new vote.
In June's election, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost the absolute majority of Parliament seats it had enjoyed throughout its 13-year rule, and the vote scotched an attempt by Erdoğan to give himself sweeping executive powers. A coalition, a minority government and early elections were all possibilities.
Deputy Prime Ministers Bulent Arinc and Numan Kurtulmus, two leaders of the AKP, said following the elections that the party would prefer a coalition government to a return to the polls. And in his first public statement following the results, Erdoğan echoed a similar sentiment, saying no party had one enough votes to rule alone, and encouraged all parties to work together to preserve stability in the country.
“Our nation’s opinion is above everything else,” Erdoğan said in his first public reaction to the parliamentary elections.
The political parties in Parliament have opposing stances on social and economic issues, and so forming a coalition government would have been difficult.
An option for a coalition government could have been a partnership between AKP and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which passed the 10 percent threshold needed to enter Parliament and also has 80 seats. It is the first time the party has won enough of the vote to attain seats in Parliament. But the outbreak of fighting between the Turkish government and the Kurds in the southeastern part of the country put any future deal between the two in jeopardy.
The biggest party after the AKP is the CHP, with 132 seats, but any prospect of an alliance with Erdoğan was ultimately shut down when Haluk Koc, the CHP spokesman, was quoted by Al Jazeera as saying that by delivering Erdoğan a blow at the polls, Turkey "has avoided a one-person dictatorship and a civilian coup."