ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said a snap election would be “inevitable” if both the ruling AK Party and the main opposition fail in efforts to form a new government within the constitutional limit of 45 days.
In comments published on Sunday in Milliyet newspaper, Erdogan said he planned to grant a mandate to form a new government first to the AKP, which won around 41 percent of the vote in the June 7 election — short of securing the parliamentary majority required to rule alone.
“Let’s say the party who came first in the election could not achieve this (to form a government) and neither did the second one.....In such a case, going to the ballot box again as per the constitution would be inevitable,” Erdogan told reporters late on Saturday as he flew back from Azerbaijan.
“I don’t call this a snap poll but a re-run.”
After parliament is sworn in later this month, Erdogan is expected to formally empower the AKP to form a new government. If it does not succeed in doing so within 45 days, he has the power to call a new election.
“To leave the country without a government is unthinkable,” Erdogan said. “The uncertainty should not last long to make sure investments and our international relations are not disrupted. A government should be formed as soon as possible.”
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told Turkey’s CNN Turk television that he expected Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, leader of the AKP, to secure a new government in the first round of talks.
“I believe our prime minister will be able to present a coalition alternative that will satisfy Turkey,” Kurtulmus said. “It is not the end of the world though if it doesn’t happen.”
The AKP Erdogan co-founded remains Turkey’s largest party but its support fell on June 7 from nearly 50 percent in the 2011 election. Votes were lost to the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which entered parliament for the first time, and to the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
The results have also thwarted Erdogan’s ambition to establish an executive presidency and accumulate greater powers, for now, in the NATO member state.
In the event of a re-run, the AKP would likely struggle to win back many Kurdish votes but could hope to regain those who turned to the MHP and now regret the prospect of an unstable coalition. An IPSOS poll shortly after the results were announced suggested the AKP would have had 4 percent more support if voters had known the outcome in advance.
Erdogan further said he planned to meet with leaders of the four political parties that have entered parliament as quickly as possible. “I would like to invite them separately and get their opinion about the process,” he said.
“I may begin these meetings before the lawmakers are sworn in, therefore I could invite them this week.”
Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Rosalind Russell