After failing to form a governing alliance following June’s election, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan thinks his political party can do better in another attempt at the polls.
Erdoğan announced Monday that early elections will be held November 1. He is a former Prime Minister from the AKP party, which lost its majority grip on the Turkish parliament in June — its first electoral loss in 13 years. Although Turkey’s president is supposed to be a politically neutral office, Erdoğan has remained a prominent AKP figure since switching jobs.
As Monday’s deadline to form a working government passed, the president was betting that events will push more voters to back the AKP. (RELATED: Sunday’s Turkish Election Was A Blow To Strongman-Style Islamism)
Since the election early this summer, Turkey has declared its intent to partner with the U.S. in bombarding Islamic State targets in Syria’s north. But the airstrikes have also disproportionately targeted Kurdish forces in Turkey and Syria — which are among the most effective militias pushing back Islamic State.
Many Turkish voters see the AKP as too favorable toward the Islamist factions in Syria’s bloody four-year civil war. Besides being too lax in policing the cross-border smuggling route that Islamic State and others use, the government recently faced accusations of delivering U.S.-backed rebels directly into the hands of an al-Qaida affiliate. (RELATED: Report: Turkey, The New Anti-ISIS Ally, Betrayed US-Backed Syrian Rebels)
Erdoğan’s ascendant electoral challengers belong to a party, the HDP, whose roots lie in Kurdish nationalism. With AKP leaders bombing multiple Kurdish groups, the HDP has become increasingly critical of the leading party’s heavy-handed approach to security in the country’s east.
On the other hand, Turkish voters who were exasperated with their government turning a blind eye to Islamic State may be encouraged by the AKP’s newly strengthened stance on the Syrian war. Erdoğan is hoping that enough voters will share this view to return the AKP to its old, comfortable majority in parliament.
Until the election, the major parties are required to form a temporary governing coalition. The HDP’s leader has said that he would accept an invitation to participate. Other parties that won big in the election have said they will not share even a temporary cabinet with the AKP.
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