Istanbul: Turkey’s main opposition parties are expected to announce a broad electoral alliance before general elections in June, a step that could pose a significant challenge to the dominance of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling party.
The deal, which will include the country’s largest secular and nationalist opposition blocs, is likely to dilute the Justice and Development party’s (AKP) control of the legislature and overcome the regulation that any party must receive 10% of the national vote to win a seat in parliament, a rule that has reinforced Erdoğan’s long-running majority.
The coalition is expected to be formally announced on Thursday and will include the Republican People’s party (CHP), the İyi (Good) party, the Islamist Saadet party (SP) and the Democrat party (DP).
The secularist CHP is the largest opposition grouping in parliament, and the newly formed İyi is composed primarily of nationalists. The İyi leader, Meral Akşener, has declared herself a presidential candidate.
They will run against the ruling AKP and the Nationalist Action party (MHP), which formed a coalition this year to contest the polls.
Erdoğan has called snap presidential and parliamentary elections on 24 June, a year and a half ahead of schedule. Whoever is elected president will assume sweeping powers that were narrowly passed in a referendum last year.
Erdoğan is the clear favourite to win the presidential race, but a larger opposition bloc in parliament would pose a significant challenge.
Turkey’s electoral system awards seats based on a proportional representation formula that tends to reward larger parties and coalitions. Parties that fail to achieve the 10% minimum of the national vote have any seats won reallocated to others that meet the threshold.
In March, the AKP-dominated parliament passed a bill that permitted electoral alliances in Turkish elections for the first time. The law allows smaller parties to skirt the 10% threshold by entering a coalition.
Shortly afterwards, the AKP and the nationalist MHP announced an alliance, amid fears that the latter would fail to garner enough votes to enter parliament after backing Erdoğan’s re-election.
But the opposition’s move has complicated matters for the ruling party, allowing them to also bypass the threshold and to potentially dilute the AKP’s parliamentary majority.
The alliance does not include the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic party (HDP), which has suffered amid a wide-ranging government crackdown on dissent that has led to the imprisonment of many of its MPs and officials. The party’s two leaders were jailed, and one has lost her parliamentary status after a terror conviction.
Despite this. the HDP may well reach its electoral threshold and enter parliament due to its popularity with Kurdish voters. Its candidates could also run as independents, for whom the 10% rule does not apply.