ISTANBUL — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged the swift formation of a coalition government, warning he could call early elections should there be no agreement by mid-August.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its majority in June 7 elections for the first time since it came to power in 2002, in a major blow to Erdogan.
Newly elected lawmakers will be sworn in tomorrow, after which Erdogan will ask the AKP – still the biggest party in parliament – to form a coalition government within 45 days.
Should talks fail, Erdogan again warned that he would invoke the constitution and call early elections.
"It's possible this process may take until the middle of August. I believe Turkey cannot endure such a loss of time, so I encourage the formation of a new government as soon as possible," Erdogan said.
"But if politicians are unable to sort this out, then the people are the only recourse to resolve this," he said, referring to possible early elections.
Erdogan cited the chaos engulfing neighbours Syria and Iraq to encourage the parties to form a government quickly, adding that the economy also seemed ready to accept a coalition government.
"Surrounded by a ring of fire, Turkey must stay strong to avoid harm and help its brothers, so we must quickly complete the post-election period," he said.
"Our parties and their leaders must act responsibly and avoid testing the limits of the economy's patience." Critics have accused the head of state of continuing to exercise his influence in parliamentary affairs despite a constitutional ban, but the strongman insists he is acting within his mandate.
"I know how to exercise my powers under the constitution quite well. I don't need orders from anyone on this," he said.
Erdogan had hoped the AKP would win a super majority to enable him to push through a constitutional reform that would have given him reinforced powers as president.
But Turkey's three opposition parties have so far refused to join a coalition government with the AKP unless Erdogan gives up his hopes of a presidential system. — AFP