Rival Turkish nationalist leaders in war of words

A spat between the leaders of Turkey’s two rival nationalist parties on Thursday night ended with members of government’s junior coalition partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), gathering in front of the house of head of the opposition Good Party in protest.

MHP leader and ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Devlet Bahçeli, warned Meral Akşener on Twitter late in the evening.

Bahçeli said that while Akşener had verbally attacked his party for its alliance with Erdoğan, she recognised the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) as a legitimate political movement and was working alongside the leftist main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

“This is my last warning to this lady, if you continue to act like a vandal by violating the nerves and the boundaries of the MHP, which you want to divide and destroy, you will have to accept the consequences. Listen to the words of your elders,” Bahçeli said.

Akşener split from the MHP in 2016 and formed the Good Party last year with a number of parliamentarians disgruntled with septuagenarian Bahçeli, who has led his party since 1997.

In response to the warning from Bahçeli, Akşener shared the address of her party’s headquarters in Ankara on Twitter, using a Turkish idiom that means she is not afraid of anything.

“Under which elderly person’s instruction are you acting when you provide a shield for McKinsey,” Akşener said, referring the Turkish government’s decision to hire the international consultancy firm to oversee the country’s public finances.

Following the spat, a group of MHP supporters gathered in front of Akşener’s house in protest. “If you are man enough, come here and hit me,” Akşener said to the group.

“If you have the courage, come here yourself, we are waiting,” Akşener wrote later on Twitter, targeting Bahçeli without mentioning his name.