ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu vowed a quick start to coalition talks on Thursday, after President Tayyip Erdogan instructed him to form a new government more than a month after an election deprived their AK Party of a parliamentary majority.
Opposition lawmakers had accused Erdogan, a founder of the AKP and Turkey’s most popular - and polarizing - political figure, of deliberately delaying the process to push for a snap election he hopes might see the AKP regain a majority.
Erdogan gave Davutoglu the mandate to form a new government during a meeting in his palace in Ankara, the presidency said. Political parties now have 45 days to form a new government or face the prospect of a re-run.
The June 7 vote left the AKP unable to rule alone for the first time in over a decade, plunging Turkey into political uncertainty not seen since the 1990s and thwarting, for now, Erdogan’s ambition to amass greater power.
Davutoglu told AKP members in parliament he planned to hold a first round of coalition talks next week. Sources in his office said he would meet all three opposition parties and that the first round would be concluded by next Wednesday.
It is unclear whether the Islamist-rooted AKP is leaning toward forming a coalition with the rightist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) or the main opposition left-leaning Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Davutoglu said he planned to speak to CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu first, CNN Turk reported on Twitter, adding talks could go into a second round following the Eid holiday this month.
Kilicdaroglu told broadcaster NTV he did not expect an outcome from the first round of talks and that the second round would probably be “more fruitful”.
While the nationalists are closer to the AKP ideologically, an alliance would be likely to scupper a peace process with Turkey’s Kurdish minority, something Erdogan sees as part of his legacy.
Sources have told Reuters some of the AKP’s top brass are leaning towards a grand coalition with the secularist CHP, although it remains to be seen whether that would be palatable to the AKP’s rank and file, many of whom are devout Muslims.
MHP leader Devlet Bahceli said on Thursday his party would do “whatever it takes” to avoid political instability, in an apparent sign of readiness to negotiate.
Apart from the Kurdish peace process, analysts say the AKP is likely to face two other key sticking points in the coalition talks: potential military intervention in neighboring Syria and the powers of the presidency in Turkey.
While the nationalists oppose talks with the Kurds, the CHP has come out against intervention in Syria. Ankara has been boosting its security presence along the Syrian border, where pro-government newspapers have said it is looking at creating a “buffer zone”.
Neither the CHP nor the MHP has expressed support for the idea of a strong presidency championed by Erdogan and the AKP. Under Turkey’s current constitution the president has relatively limited powers, a situation Erdogan has vowed to change.
Davutoglu said last month he would not accept any coalition negotiations that questioned the legitimacy of Erdogan’s role.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which entered parliament for the first time after breaching a 10 percent voting threshold in the June election, has ruled out joining a coalition with the AKP.
Additional reporting by Ece Toksabay and Gulsen Solaker; Writing by Ayla Jean Yackley and David Dolan; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Andrew Roche