Perinçek says would fill in for Bahçeli if MHP leader steps down

The leader of Turkey’s ultranationalist Patriotic Party has said that he would step in to lead the far right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) if its leader Devlet Bahçeli resign.

Doğu Perinçek praised the MHP for its struggle against terror and the United States, saying it would “be an honour to lead the party,’’ Cumhuriyet newspaper reported on Friday.

Perinçek, a former Maoist Eurasianist fringe political figure, is a vocal supporter of enhancing Ankara’s relations with Russia, China, Iran and Central Asian countries despite what he calls interference from Washington.

The 78-year-old, who ran for president in 2018, argues that under his leadership Turkey would leave NATO and take control of the Incirlik Airbase and other U.S. military bases on Turkish soil.

Perinçek said he would“not be threatened with MHP leadership,’’ and the current coalition government's junior partner was “a patriotic party.”

“MHP is working for Turkey’s unity. It is in a struggle against terror and the United States. That is why it’s not a crime to be at the helm of the party,’’ Perinçek said. 

The MHP, for its part, has rejected any association with Perinçek.

“It is not possible for the Patriotic Party leader to be even a member of the MHP,’’ the Independent Turkish cited MHP sources as saying on Saturday.

The Patriotic Party leader received 0.2 percent support in the 2018 presidential election.