MHP dissidents garner enough support for extraordinary convention

MHP dissidents garner enough support for extraordinary convention

MHP dissidents garner enough support for extraordinary convention

AFP photo

Dissidents in the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) managed to make substantial changes to the party’s internal regulations through an extraordinary convention in Ankara on June 19, marking an important milestone in their months-long legal fight to topple long-time party chair Devlet Bahçeli. 

The Trustee Board charged with holding the convention upon a court decision announced the official opening of the meeting after registering the presence of 752 out of 1,187 delegates, over the required 594, at the convention hall on June 19. 

The MHP leadership, however, claimed that only 495 delegates had signed in, rendering the convention null and void as the required majority was two thirds.

The Ankara 13rd Notary Court, tasked with registering the participants, stated that 657 delegates had signed in but the counting process was ongoing. It said it would make an official statement on June 20. 

MHP leader Bahçeli did not join the convention but met with his closest aides at the party headquarters to evaluate the developments. Before the convention, Bahçeli urged the dissidents that the June 19 convention had no legality as he had already called an extraordinary convention on July 10. 

All four prominent candidates to take over the party leadership - Meral Akşener, Sinan Oğan, Ümit Özdağ and Koray Aydın - participated in the convention and presented a picture of unity, appearing hand-in-hand together on stage. 

“We wish Bahçeli was here as well. He is the head of this party and our leader. He opted not to be here but that won’t stop our efforts to come to power,” Oğan told private broadcaster CNN Türk. 

The MHP will hold another extraordinary convention on July 10, with dissidents hoping that one of the four candidates will garner enough votes to be elected to replace Bahçeli. 

Opposition makes key changes  

The dissidents have made substantial amendments to the MHP’s internal regulations, although their initial plan was to change only one article disallowing leadership changes through extraordinary conventions. Under normal conditions, the MHP’s regular convention would take place in 2018.   

In total, the delegates approved 14 amendments to regulations, particularly related to disciplinary measures, in a bid to nix potential moves by the MHP leadership to move against contenders due to face Bahçeli on July 10. 

The amendments also aimed to nullify already ongoing disciplinary procedures launched against dissidents since the general election last November. 

The MHP’s poor performance in the election, as well as Bahçeli’s open support for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on a number of critical issues, sparked a massive in-house reaction against his 17-year-long leadership.