Turkey’s Erdogan may seek coalition if AK Party fails to get majority

Polls indicate the elections may be closer than anticipated when Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called the snap elections in April. Supporters of Erdogan shout and wave flags during a rally in Mardin on Wednesday, June 20. (Reuters)
Updated 21 June 2018
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Turkey’s Erdogan may seek coalition if AK Party fails to get majority

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said his ruling AK Party could seek to form a coalition if it fails to secure a parliamentary majority in Sunday’s elections, but said the prospect of this is “very, very low.”
Polls indicate the elections may be closer than anticipated when he called the snap elections in April, suggesting he may be pushed to a second-round run-off for the presidency, and his AKP could lose its majority in the 600-seat assembly.
“If it is under 300 (seats), then there could be a search for a coalition,” Erdogan said in an interview with the Kral FM radio station late on Wednesday.
He added that the probability of this was “very, very low.”
The Turkish lira, which has slumped more than 20 percent against the dollar this year, has extended losses over the last week on concern about the prospect of political uncertainty following the elections.
Investors fear political deadlock if the AK Party loses its majority in parliament as it would put a brake on Erdogan’s ability to exercise the powers of the new presidential system.
The AKP formed an alliance with the nationalist MHP before the elections, which will herald a switch to a new powerful executive presidency narrowly approved in a referendum last year.
Opposition parties also formed an alliance, which excluded the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). If the HDP exceeds the 10 percent threshold of votes needed to enter parliament, it will be harder for the AKP to achieve a majority.
Under the constitutional changes going into effect after the elections, the number of lawmakers in parliament will increase to 600 from 550 currently.
The AKP has held a majority in parliament for nearly all its 15 years in power, only losing it in the June 2015 election. After parties failed to form a coalition then, Erdogan called a fresh election in November which restored the AKP majority.
MHP leader Devlet Bahceli said on Monday another election could be held if his alliance with the AKP cannot form a majority in parliament after Sunday’s vote.


Iranian media: 79 injured in earthquake in southern Iran

Updated 23 July 2018
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Iranian media: 79 injured in earthquake in southern Iran

TEHRAN: Iran's state TV says a magnitude 5.8 earthquake has injured at least 79 people in the country's south. The United States Geological Survey put the quake's magnitude at 5.9.
There were no immediate reports of fatalities. The earthquake struck in the early morning on Monday near the village of Sirch in the province of Kerman. That's about 1,100 kilometers or 683 miles south of the capital, Tehran.
The USGS says the quake was followed by several smaller aftershocks and also a 4.8 magnitude temblor to the northeast, and came after a series of quakes the day before that injured nearly 300 people.
Iran sits on major fault lines and is prone to regular earthquakes. A magnitude 7.2 quake hit western Iran in November, killing more than 600.