There’s something strange going on in Turkish politics and, while perhaps unlikely, it could end up spelling trouble for the Tyrant of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Their president recently announced a surprise maneuver which could potentially further cement his hold on absolute power there, but the opposition parties have proven to have a bit more fire in their belly than I would have thought. In an unexpected move, several legislators from one opposition party have switched ranks to join up with a separate opposition group, expanding their appeal. (Time)

More than a dozen Turkish opposition lawmakers switched parties Sunday in a show of solidarity as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rivals scramble to challenge him in a surprise snap election that could solidify his rule.

Officials from the pro-secular Republican People’s Party, or CHP, said 15 of its lawmakers would join the center-right Iyi Party. The CHP, which is the main opposition party, said the decision was borne out of “democratic disposition.”

The snap presidential and parliamentary elections called for June 24 last week caught Turkey off guard. The opposition is in disarray as it struggles to put forward candidates and campaign plans. The elections were initially supposed to take place in November 2019.

The impetus for this shift in alliances came when Erdogan suddenly announced snap elections for this June. The next regularly scheduled elections weren’t supposed to take place for a year and a half, but Erdogan clearly feels he has the opposition on the ropes right now. If he can force a vote while his remaining opponents are still in disarray and have little time to mount campaigns, he could expand his power in the Parliament and extend his party’s rule by several years without fear of reprisal at the ballot box.

Erdogan’s opponents have also been rather quiet for some time now, no doubt at least partly due to the fact that his perceived enemies have a nasty habit of winding up in prison or conveniently disappearing. That makes it all the more remarkable to see them openly maneuvering to try to outflank him in the June elections. If they could actually seize a majority (or at least a significantly larger minority) it could spell trouble for Erdogan’s ongoing “reforms” which have been systematically wrecking their once thriving democracy.

Best of luck to the opposition parties. Up until now, the United States hasn’t been able to make any progress with Erdogan and he’s still holding a number of American citizens as political prisoners. The Turkish military is busy causing trouble for American forces in Syria as well as our Kurdish allies. And Erdogan’s hold on the flow of Syrian migrants trying to enter Europe has kept the EU from taking any substantial diplomatic action against him. If we’re going to get any leverage on this guy it may wind up having to come from the opposition ranks inside his own country.