President Tayyip Erdoğan has been told “no” for the third time by the Felicity Party (SP), which he had announced he would spare no effort to bring into the alliance up until the election with the message, “Our doors are wide open.” As to the SP, it plans to field its own presidential candidate in the first round and wants the candidate to be the eleventh president Abdullah Gül.
Following the AKP and MHP’s decision to form an alliance, the SP has become the most spoken about party in the context of the elections. The first overture to the SP as to an alliance came from Erdoğan himself. At the discussions he held with SP General Chair Temel Karamollaoğlu, Erdoğan said with reference to the alliance they had formed with the MHP that there had been a desire to combine, but they attached a different significance to the SP and he made an invitation to the SP. For the SP, the impression created was as if Erdoğan had said “Close the shop and join us” in the way Numan Kurtulmuş had joined in the past. Even though Erdoğan subsequently sent AKP Constitutional Commission Chair Mustafa Şentop a further two times, he received a firm “no” reply from Karamollaoğlu.
Felicity has its sights on Gül
Thinking over the approach to the presidential election has also begun to crystallise at the SP, which did not take up the open invitations emanating from Erdoğan. A powerful consensus has formed in the SP, which was part of the “no” block in the referendum, over fielding its own presidential candidate in the first round of the 2019 elections. The first name mentioned as a potential candidate by Karamollaoğlu and almost the entire party administration was that of Abdullah Gül. With Karamollaoğlu openly stating that they wanted Gül as candidate, a succession of comments in the same vein has finally begun to emerge from within the CHP.
No dialogue as yet
Even though his name is now readily associable with the SP, there have as yet been no contacts between Gül and this party with reference to candidacy. Both Gül’s circle and SP administrators state that until now there have been absolutely no talks, communications or dialogue over candidacy. However, Karamollaoğlu informed his staff that he had gained the impression at the last talks he had with Erdoğan that the elections would be held in 2019, that is, on time, and an early election was not being contemplated.
His intentions will be sounded out
For this reason, the SP administration has decided there is no need to hurry over Gül. SP administrators, pointing to the AKP’s constant attempts to force Gül’s hand asking, “Are you standing or not? Out with it,” have united in the view that for them to make an official proposal of candidacy to Gül at this stage would be pressurisation of this kind and would force him to make an early decision over his candidacy. Consequently, they are inclined to wait for political developments to unfold in the approach to the election and for Gül’s candidacy to be finalised on a date close to the election once negotiations have also been conducted with the parties with which action will be aligned.
Good Party alliance
The SP, having fielded is own presidential candidate in the first round, will base its actions in the second round on the agreement reached with the parties making up the “no” block within an alliance of principles. However, even though the SP will field its own candidate in the first round, it will remain open to alliances to enable it to surpass the ten per cent threshold and gain representation in parliament. As such, the prime candidate as alliance partner is the Good Party. Both parties are acting warmly to one another.
HDP is not the “beyond the pale”
With talk of alliances or the combining of forces with an eye on the presidential and parliamentary elections, there is a notable absence of any mention of the HDP, which was included in the “no” block in the referendum and has the potential to reach ten per cent. However, the SP expresses its ideas about this by saying, “In our view, the HDP is not beyond the pale as a party. To the extent that every party is a party, so is the HDP.” The SP is known to have a higher base in the South-East compared to other regions. In tandem with suggestions that the AKP-MHP alliance will cost votes among conservative Kurds, the word in the lobbies is that there may be alliance discussions between the HDP and SP.
CHP wants a democracy block
With the CHP, in turn, preparing to spearhead an endeavour to create a “Democracy” block, it is at this stage working in the direction of fielding its own presidential candidate and standing alone in the parliamentary elections. However, as the election nears, it is also giving clear indications that, if parties included in the block are encountering threshold difficulties, it is open to alliances that will enable it to transport these parties into parliament and strengthen the opposition in parliament.