Erdogan holds surprise meeting with a leading Turkish opposition figure
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday held a surprise meeting with a senior figure from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), as Turkey’s political forces weigh up coalition options after legislative elections.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its overall majority in Sunday’s polls, in what was seen as a major blow for Erdogan and the Islamic-rooted AKP which has ruled Turkey for the last 13 years.
The result has plunged Turkey into a period of political uncertainty unprecedented since the AKP came to power, with the country facing either a coalition government or early elections.
Erdogan, who has yet to speak in public about the results, held two hours of unannounced talks in Ankara with Deniz Baykal who was CHP leader until 2010 and retained his seat.
The meeting came amid speculation that one way out of Turkey’s political impasse could be a “grand coalition” between the CHP and AKP.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, Baykal said Erdogan was open to all forms of coalition.
“I saw that Mr. President has an open understanding for all kinds of coalitions,” the CHP grandee said.
Baykal also said he saw no objection on the part of the presidency towards an opposition coalition that would not involve the AKP.
“The political parties need to talk about the issue of a coalition. The presidency is not going to prevent a consensus,” he added.
Baykal said he would now inform CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu about the results of the meeting.
The meeting also caused considerable ribaldry on social networks with users recalling how Erdogan had gleefully mocked Baykal when he resigned from the CHP post amid an alleged sex tape scandal.