Erdogan warns political parties: Keep presidency out of coalition talks!

Friday 10/07/2015
Out of sight, but not power

ANKARA (Turkey) - As Turkey's ruling party on Tuesday embarked on a second day of talks in search of a coalition partner, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned parties to keep his status out of their coalition-building efforts and said he would stand in the way of any deal that would nix his dream projects.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met with leaders of the far-right nationalist party to test the waters for a coalition partnership for his Islamic-rooted ruling party. On Monday, Davutoglu held similar talks with Turkey's pro-secular party — his party's main rival — and described the discussions as "sincere and friendly."

The ruling party, which Erdogan founded, came first in Turkey's June 7 elections but lost its parliamentary majority, forcing it to seek a coalition partner.

Davutoglu has 45 days in which to build a government, otherwise new elections will be called.

His possible coalition partners accuse Erdogan of overstepping the powers of his presidency and want him reined in. The nationalist party has also said that Erdogan should move out of a 1,150-room palace that he built for himself.

At a Ramadan fast-breaking dinner late Monday, Erdogan said he would not allow mega projects that he initiated — such as the construction of Istanbul's third airport and third bridge — to be shelved as part of a coalition deal. Some pro-secular party members have suggested that some projects criticized by environmentalists or for the way contracts were awarded should be revised.

Erdogan called the parties' insistence on a diminished role for him and discussions on his palace "ugly" efforts to escape responsibilities toward Turkey.

Erdogan is rumored to want repeat elections, possibly in November, in the hope that the ruling party can regain a majority allowing it to rule alone.

The election not only ended the ruling party's 13-year single-party rule but came as a slap to Erdogan's ambitions to switch to a presidential system that would give him broad executive powers.