Turkish cabinet resigns as Erdogan holds post-election silence
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Reeling from shock election results, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday accepted the resignation of the cabinet but asked the prime minister and his team to stay on until a new government is formed.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) failed in Sunday’s polls to keep its parliamentary majority for the first time since it came to power in 2002, leaving the country facing either a coalition government or snap elections.
Erdogan hosted Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu for an hour of closed-door talks inside the vast new presidential palace in Ankara.
“Mr President accepted today the resignation of the cabinet that was presented by Mr Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu,” Erdogan’s office said in a brief statement.
“Mr President, who thanked the cabinet for its services so far, asked the cabinet to remain in charge until a new government is formed,” it added.
A government source told AFP that the expected move was purely procedural and Erdogan would host Davutoglu again at a later date to discuss starting coalition talks with other parties.
‘No coalition with AKP’
There are however no straightforward coalition options, making snap elections a real possibility.
Erdogan can call snap elections within 45 days if efforts to form a coalition are unsuccessful.
The AKP won 41 percent of the vote, followed by the Republican People’s Party (CHP) on 25 percent, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on 16.5 percent and the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in fourth place with 13 percent.
The AKP will have 258 seats in the 550-seat parliament, the CHP 132, and the MHP and HDP 80 apiece.
The result was a huge blow for the AKP which has been largely unchallenged in its political dominance of Turkey over the last 13 years.
The MHP, which shares the AKP’s conservative and religious outlook would be the most natural partner, but is opposed to many aspects of the peace process with Kurdish rebels.
The CHP has bitterly denounced Erdogan as a dictator but its leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu has left open the door to a coalition, saying it would be “disrespectful” to voters to leave the country without a government.
“As perplexing as it may seem, I would bet on the grand coalition for Turkey,” said Sinan Ulgen, visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, in a report.
The HDP, whose charismatic leader Selahattin Demirtas was the star of the campaign, has clearly ruled out taking part in any coalition.
“We are clear on this situation. We will not have a coalition with the AKP,” said Demirtas, adding that the AKP and CHP should try and form a coalition as the two biggest parties.
The result was an immense breakthrough for the HDP, which managed to surmount the 10 percent threshold needed to win seats and resoundingly defeat the AKP in the Kurdish-dominated southeast.
Erdogan stays silent
The elections were also a bruising blow for Erdogan, the co-founder of the AKP who served as premier from 2003-2014 and as president since August last year.
Erdogan wanted the AKP to win a super majority to push through a new constitution that would give him reinforced powers as president. But instead Turkey has a hung parliament.
To the amusement of pro-opposition bloggers, Erdogan – usually ubiquitous on television and making several appearances a day – has almost vanished from sight since the election and made no spoken comment.
As president, Erdogan should have in theory remained neutral in the campaign but instead waded in on the side of the AKP, blasting opponents at every opportunity.
Erdogan’s last tweet from his official account was posted on Saturday, reading “Thank you Agri”, referring to the eastern province where he staged a rally on the eve of the key vote.
“Turkey is resting its head,” the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper headlined on Tuesday, mockingly comparing Erdogan’s hush with the pre-election period when he appeared on 127 television programmes and remained on air for 367 hours and 23 minutes.
Opposition bloggers opened a tick counter page, illustrating how long he has been off-air in days, hours, minutes and seconds, which went viral on social media including Twitter.
HDP leader Demirtas told Erdogan there was no need to retreat to his controversial presidential palace in Ankara to lick his wounds.
“The power and the seats are not your property, but the people’s,” Demirtas told reporters.
“There is no need to be panicked, get frustrated or close yourself up in your to palace,” he said. “The power and mandate are temporary.”
Turkish media reports said Erdogan’s first scheduled public speech would be an address to students on Thursday.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)