Erdogan in surprise meeting with Turkey opposition figure

Erdogan in surprise meeting with Turkey opposition figure
Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during an opening ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey, May 26, 2015.

ANKARA - 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.

Baykal, 76, who is poised to be the acting speaker as the oldest MP, said the meeting took place at Erdogan's request.

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.

The election results meant the AKP will have 258 seats in the 550-seat parliament, the CHP 132, and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) 80 apiece.

Commentators have now suggested that the option of snap new elections has receded amid the activity to find a coalition solution.

"Ankara's pulse is changing every moment," wrote the well-connected pro-AKP columnist Abdulkadir Selvi in the Yeni Safak daily.

"On the election night, the odds seemed to be on the side of early elections. However, as the heat of the elections wear off, the odds started to turn towards coalition government."

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