Turkish nationalist party to back Erdoğan in presidential election

The opposition Nationalist Action Party (MHP) will not nominate a candidate to run in the 2019 presidential election and will back President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan instead.

Speaking to reporters in Ankara on Monday, MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli said his party would remain loyal to the spirit of Yenikapı, a mass political rally it joined with Erdoğan and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) to denounce the July 2016 coup attempt in August of that year.

Bahçeli repeated his support for a possible alliance with Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) in parliamentary elections, also due next year. Such a move would benefit Turkey amid chaos in the region, he said.

Erdoğan is likely to face former MHP politician Meral Akşener in the election – Akşener has left the MHP to form the Good Party, a rival right-wing group to the MHP and AKP that pledges loyalty to the parliamentary system and to reverse legislation that would create a full presidential system of government after the poll.

The MHP supported a nationwide referendum last year that switches Turkey to a presidential system of government.

However, the MHP has lost public support, which is currently below the 10 percent threshold required for seats in the legislature, opinion polls show. AKP has said it may back a proposal to lower the threshold.

The CHP, which has accused Erdoğan of corruption and threatening the nation’s democracy, is set to field its own candidate in the election.