Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan yesterday urged the nation’s political parties to work quickly to form a new government, saying egos should be left aside and that history would judge anyone who stood in the way.
In his first public appearance since Sunday’s parliamentary election deprived the ruling Justice and Development Party, known by its acronym AKP, of a majority, Erdogan said his own role as Turkey’s first elected president was critical and that he would play his part with the powers given to him by the constitution.
Opponents have accused Erdogan of exceeding his authority in meddling in government and campaigning for the AKP he formally left when he assumed the presidency last year with the aim of imbuing it with sweeping new powers.
“Everyone should put aside their egos and form a government as soon as possible,” Erdogan said in a speech to students at the Ankara Chamber of Commerce.
“This is our biggest responsibility towards our 78 million people. No politician has the right to say ‘I,’ we have to say ‘We,’” he said.
Sunday’s vote ended more than a decade of single-party rule in the EU candidate nation, dealing a blow to Erdogan’s ambitions for a more powerful executive role. Some critics view it as a turning point for the president and for Turkey.
Erdogan, who founded the AKP in 2001 and has dominated politics ever since, had hoped the party would win a strong enough majority to change the constitution and introduce a US-style presidential system.
It was a plan viewed with suspicion by opponents who accuse him of amassing too much personal power and becoming increasingly intolerant of criticism.
“As the first elected president my responsibility is critical, I am aware of this,” Erdogan said.
“Those who leave Turkey without a government will not be able to account for themselves before history and the people... I invite all political parties to remain calm and responsible to ensure this process is moved forward as harmlessly as possible,” he said.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the AKP, its roots in Islamist politics, could be flexible.
“We’ve used the coalition eras of the 1970s and 1990s as an example to show that coalitions are not suitable for Turkey and we still stand by that stance,” Davutoglu said at a meeting of AKP officials in Ankara.
Davutoglu said in an interview on state TV late on Wednesday that early elections would be considered only as a last resort. He made it clear that Erdogan, barred from party politics, would not be directly involved in efforts to build a coalition.
Coalition negotiations are likely to be complicated.
The right-wing Nationalist Movement Party has been seen as a strong potential partner, but its supporters are fiercely opposed to a peace process with Kurdish militants, which Erdogan and Davutoglu have said will remain a priority.
The AKP could also try to enter coalition with the secularist Republican People’s Party, but would have to bridge a gaping ideological divide.
Erdogan and many of his supporters view the party of modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk as the bastion of secularists whose elitist mentality he argues inflicted decades of oppression on religious conservatives.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which crossed the 10 percent threshold to enter parliament and helped deprive the AKP of its majority, has ruled out any coalition with the ruling party.
“We do not have a personal animosity towards President Erdogan. A president that breaches the constitution, and violates the law and justice will always be criticized by us,” HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtas said.
Striking a more conciliatory note, he said that his party would play a constructive role in parliament, particularly in advancing peace with Kurdistan Workers Party militants.
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