Bahçeli continues to take aim at Akşener’s bid
The Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli has continued to criticize presidential candidate and İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener’s bid to collect 100,000 signatures for her nomination, claiming she was encouraged by the Fethullah Gülen network, widely believed to have masterminded the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt.
“Why would a party with a history of less than seven months attempt to collect 100,000 signatures when it is not needed?” Bahçeli wrote in a Twitter post on May 5.
“Who gave them this advice? Is it Pennsylvania who suggested this?” he went on in his series of tweets, referring to Gülen’s current place of residence, who is wanted by Turkey to be tried on allegations of founding and leading the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).
‘I refrain from speaking against her’
Bahçeli also said he would refrain from speaking against Meral Akşener “because she is a woman,” while voicing his anger against the former MHP member and the recent founder of the İYİ Party.
“I refrain from speaking against the person who is the leader of the İP [İYİ Party] because she is a woman,” he said.
“This is in honor of my respect for women and womanhood,” he added, before warning her “to know her place and to exercise good manners and polite language.”
Two opposition leaders, Akşener and Temel Karamollaoğlu from the Felicity Party (SP), who will run for presidency in the June 24 polls, began collecting the required 100,000 signatures on May 4, a day after Bahçeli urged the government to probe the potential links of the names on the signature list with FETÖ.
According to the law, a presidential candidate can be nominated by a political party, which has either received at least 5 percent of the votes in the last election or has at least 20 seats in parliament. Individuals who collect at least 100,000 signatures from voters also qualify to be a nominee.
As the process for collecting signatures for independent candidates continues, the İYİ Party and the SP’s candidates have reached the threshold of 100,000 signatures as of May 6 and qualify to run in the elections.
Following a call by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, members of the main opposition party have also signed for Akşener and Karamollaoğlu.
Since the number of İYİ Party seats in parliament has risen to 20 after 15 MPs resigned from the CHP and joined the İYİ Party, Akşener could be nominated by the parliamentary group but she has chosen to take on the challenge of collecting 100,000 signatures.
The Turkish Parliament approved a joint proposal by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the MHP on April 20 to hold snap elections on June 24, 2018, a year-and-a-half before the originally scheduled date.