ISTANBUL: The leader of Turkey’s main opposition party on Sunday accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of seeking to stage a “civilian coup” over plans for snap elections after coalition talks failed.
Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its overall majority in June 7 legislative polls but was unable to form a coalition by the deadline that runs out Sunday.
The opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which held weeks of coalition talks with the AKP, says Erdogan deliberately stymied the negotiations in the hope of triggering new polls and a better result for his party.
“There is no law in Turkey at the moment,” said CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
“Democracy is currently suspended and the constitution is is not working,” he told a televised meeting of CHP MPs in Ankara.
“We are faced with a civilian coup,” he said, in nod to history which has seen Turkey living through three military coups — in 1960, 1971 and 1980.
He said the CHP, which came second in the polls, was willing to be the minority partner in a coalition led by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, that would have been “respected inside and outside” of Turkey.
But his party wanted to see change on three major issues — foreign policy, which needed a “180 degree transformation”, the “big problem” of the economy and an education system “that leaves no parent satisfied”.
On Friday Erdogan said he would meet the speaker of the Turkish parliament on Monday to exercise his right to call snap elections, slated for November 1.
The CHP is incensed that Erdogan did not offer the party a chance to form a coalition government after the failure of talks with the AKP, accusing him of violating the constitution.
But Erdogan snapped back, saying he could not meet Kilicdaroglu because the CHP leader refused to set foot in his presidential palace.
Speaking to reporters in Ankara on Sunday, Davutoglu insisted that the AKP had acted in line with the Turkish constitution.
“Right until now, since June 7 – and the nation is our witness – we have not deviated one inch from the constitution and the law,” he said.
The key question in the November 1 polls will be whether the AKP can increase its vote count and regain its overall majority, an outcome commentators believe is far from inevitable.