MHP leader Bahçeli offers Erdogan alliance
The leader of Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Devlet Bahçeli, has declared that he will support President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan if he runs agaın in the 2019 presidential elections.
Bahçeli’s party had already declared their intention to fully support the ruling AKP in November last year, in a move characteristic of his policies since his party suffered major losses in the 2015 general elections. So, his announcement on Monday that his party would forego their own candidate in favour of Erdoğan came as little surprise:
“The MHP will not field any presidential candidate. The Party Chairman will not run as a candidate. The MHP will enter the parliamentary elections in an alliance, if that is agreed upon, otherwise independently. As for the presidential elections, the party has decided to proceed in the spirit of Yenikapi [referring to the solidarity between rival parties after the 2016 coup attempt] and pledge its support to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.”
Disillusion with the MHP’s drift towards full support of Erdogan’s government, particularly regarding the 2017 constitutional referendum, was a significant factor leading Meral Akşener, a veteran politican and former minister, to split from the party and set up the centre-right Good Party as an alternative.
Bahçeli’s announcement provoked bemusement from opposition figures including Akşener, who questioned Bahçeli’s “unconditional” support for Erdoğan; and the main opposition CHP’s Ankara MP Levent Gök, who called the MHP head a “political wash-out”.