MHP Bahçeli’s aide resigns, calls for extraordinary convention

MHP Bahçeli’s aide resigns, calls for extraordinary convention

MHP Bahçeli’s aide resigns, calls for extraordinary convention

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Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy leader Ümit Özdağ has announced his resignation from his position, while also calling for the holding an extraordinary convention, in a move which would further fuel in-house tension between MHP chair Devlet Bahçeli and his opponents. 

“Calling for an extraordinary convention is a democratic demand. It’s not a move against our chairman. This is just a statement calling our chairman to take our party to an extraordinary convention at a moment when Turkey needs a very strong MHP,” Özdağ said at a press conference on Feb. 24. Özdağ held the press conference with MHP Kayseri deputy Yusuf Halaçıoğlu and former MHP lawmaker Özcan Yeniçeri. 

Özdağ said he submitted his resignation from his position to the MHP headquarters on Feb. 24, adding he was not making a statement in support of any candidates willing to replace Bahçeli.  

Since the Nov. 1, 2015, election, in which the MHP only collected around 11 percent of the votes and 40 lawmakers in parliament, party dissidents have called for the holding of an extraordinary convention to change the party’s leadership. Former MHP lawmakers Meral Akşener, Sinan Oğan and Koray Aydın have already expressed their intention to run for the party leadership but their attempts to hold a convention were stopped by party headquarters. The call for an extraordinary convention was recently taken to court for a final decision. 

Bahçeli launched a counterattack on party dissidents, as he dismissed more than two dozen provincial MHP organizations which supported calls for an extraordinary convention. Özdağ, a professor of international relations, has become the highest level MHP official joining the in-house opposition. 

In the meantime, the MHP leadership discussed the ongoing developments and calls for a convention at a meeting late Feb. 23. The MHP leadership decided not to change its position with regards to an extraordinary convention, even if a court decision would call on the party to hold one.