Four-party opposition bloc set up for Turkey’s snap parliamentary election

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Four opposition parties have agreed to part in the upcoming snap parliamentary election in an alliance in a bid to overcome the prohibitive 10 percent threshold and increase their number of seats in the Turkish Parliament.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the İYİ (Good) Party, the Felicity Party (SP) and the Democrat Party (DP) will compose the alliance, which will run against the “People’s Alliance” established by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in the June 24 elections.

The four parties’ alliance came after the CHP conducted intense shuttle diplomacy between all parties that opposed the constitutional amendment narrowly passed in the controversial April 2017 referendum.

Talks began after a legislative change made pre-election alliances possible, following the snap election decision from the AKP–MHP alliance. According to the change, the 10 percent threshold will be calculated based on the sum of votes of all parties in an alliance. As Turkey’s election system is based on the D’Hondt model, the small parties’ participation in alliances would likely help opposition parties gain more seats in parliament.

Strongly criticizing the system shift stipulated by the amendment, arguing that it will harm democratic principles of separation of powers, the CHP argued that the elections will be critical for the future of Turkey’s democracy, proposing to its partners that parties “return to democratic values” by together gaining a majority in parliament.

The CHP carried out talks over a week to find an alliance strategy, and in the end the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) will run individually in the election.

“Two right-wing alliances will compete in the upcoming election. They will all be on one side and the HDP will be on the other side,” HDP Deputy Group Chair Filiz Kerestecioğlu said in a press conference at parliament on May 2.

Criticizing the CHP for excluding left-wing parties, Kerestecioğlu said “a social democratic party should form an alliance with other leftist parties.”

“If you are forming an alliance with the interior minister of the 1990s and those thought guilty of the Sivas [massacre in 1993] then you are part of a right-wing alliance,” she said, referring to İYİ Party leader Meral Akşener’s brief term as interior minister and SP leader Temel Karamollaoğlu service as mayor of Sivas during the deadly Islamist attack that killed 34 people in 1993.

Official announcement on May 3

The protocol of the alliance will be signed by four leaders on May 3 with a joint press conference before being registered to the Supreme Board of Elections (YSK), as the election schedule obliges parties to register their alliance protocol by May 6.

The protocol is expected to have up to eight articles underlining the importance of separation of powers, the supremacy of law, independence of the judiciary, impartiality of the president and democracy. The parties will then be able to make changes in the protocol until May 19.

The parties are also considering an official name for the alliance, with four names in particular suggested: “Democracy Alliance,” “National Alliance,” “Justice Alliance,” and “National Alliance for Democracy.”

Alliance is ‘opposition to Erdoğan’

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ criticized the four party’s alliance move as an “allianceof anger,” saying they had come together simply to “express opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.”

“What motivates them is not Turkey’s interests, its future or things to be done, it is simply opposition to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,” Bozdağ said on May 1.

He also blasted the SP for forming an alliance with the CHP, saying the main opposition party “is an enemy of everything” that the religious National Outlook Movement (Milli Görüş) has stood for.

However, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, who is in alliance with the ruling AKP, congratulated the opposition alliance.

“We think that four or five parties coming together and elections being held in an environment of competition will be beneficial for our country,” Bahçeli said.

“Many circles opposed the notion of alliances when we said the legal ground for alliances would be beneficial to our democracy. But they have now come to a point where they have formed an alliance. Congratulations,” he added.

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