MHP to hold extraordinary congress on May 15

MHP to hold extraordinary congress on May 15

MHP to hold extraordinary congress on May 15

AA photo

Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will hold an extraordinary party congress on May 15, a three-person panel appointed by an Ankara court has said amid an intensification of inner-party disputes.

The panel, made up of Mehmet Bilgiç, Ayhan Erel and Ali Sağır, held a meeting that lasted for 10 hours on April 18, after which the date was announced.

“In accordance with the authorization that the decision gives us and due to the MHP’s bylaws, the necessary processes were started in order to hold the extraordinary congress. The process will be carried out by our panel and the first extraordinary meeting will be held on May 15 at 10 a.m.,” a statement on April 19 said, adding that if a necessary majority was not reached in the first congress at the venue to be determined, a second meeting would be held in the same place on May 22.

One of the former MHP lawmakers who announced her intention to run for the party’s leadership, Meral Akşener, said she would increase the party’s votes, citing polls she had conducted.

“The AKP [the Justice and Development Party] has stable votes of 30 percent. It has an electorate that passed from ANAP [Motherland Party] of 19.5 percent. That amount of voters could shift to a MHP that I lead,” Akşener told broadcaster Habertürk late on April 18, adding that the MHP would receive 25 percent of the votes in the next election if she were elected leader of the party.

“Because of the fact that I know the MHP’s vote potential, the party’s direction depends on our work,” she said, stating that the results of the Nov. 1, 2015, election, in which the MHP only gained around 11 percent of the votes and won 40 seats in parliament, were a failure.

Commenting on the extraordinary party congress, Akşener said she met with 100 party delegates and received a very positive feedback. 

“The main question is why they are so afraid of the delegates that they have elected themselves. I’ve met with 100 party delegates. If I reveal the number of people who said ‘yes,’ they would lose their sleep,” Akşener also said, adding that the number of delegates who would support the extraordinary congress was above the absolute majority.

Speaking at a parliamentary group meeting of his party on April 19, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli replied to Akşener’s recent comments on calling him the “Chief Parallel,” referring to the Turkish government’s term to refer to sympathizers of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

“An uglier statement doesn’t exist. There are operations going on in nine provinces. Plenty of people have been detained as part of the parallel structure. Did Akşener determine me to be the chief parallel among everyone else?” said Bahçeli, referring to the anti-Gülen operations.

“If I am a ‘parallel’ project for the MHP, then Mr. Bahçeli is himself the ‘Chief Parallel.’ But this is not true,” Akşener said April 15, when she denied Bahçeli’s claims that she was supported by the Gülen movement, prompting the party to launch an investigation into her on April 17.

Another former MHP lawmaker and a prospective candidate in the leadership race, Sinan Oğan, said the party’s headquarters was planning to boycott the extraordinary congress.

“The party headquarters knows that if this turns into a race, they would lose. That’s why in order to lengthen the process and derail this movement, it will boycott the congress and try to decrease the participation,” Oğan said during a meeting in Germany on April 18, while adding that “none of it will work.”

“I don’t think that Bahçeli will be a candidate in the congress,” Oğan said. 

Since the Nov. 1, 2015 election, party dissidents have criticized Bahçeli and collected enough delegate votes to hold an extraordinary convention to change the party’s leadership.

Former MHP lawmakers Akşener, Oğan, Koray Aydın and Ümit Özdağ have already expressed their intention to run for the party leadership, but their attempts to hold a convention were stopped by party headquarters.