No MHP congress on July 10: Turkey’s top election body
REUTERS photoTurkey’s top election authority has ruled out a much-debated snap congress of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) amid a growing rift within the party, as dissidents demand a leadership change and the seating chair accuses the opposition of aiding what he calls a “plot” against the MHP.
The Supreme Election Board (YSK) gathered at 4:00 p.m. on June 28 in order to evaluate an objection to a decision of the Çankaya district election board in Ankara, which prevented an extraordinary congress with elections scheduled for July 10.
During an extraordinary party convention, which was held on June 19 and not recognized by MHP chair Devlet Bahçeli, dissidents removed an article which made a leadership change at an extraordinary convention impossible.
However, the opposition bloc also moved to change 14 articles of the party’s internal regulations, as opposed to the previously announced single amendment, triggering a legal process to deem inefficient all the changes made at the convention. An Ankara civil court issued a stay of execution regarding the amendments and the district election board in Çankaya ruled that the changes were not in effect until the court reached a final verdict – essentially preventing a snap congress with elections on July 10.
“As a stay of execution was issued on amendments to the party’s internal regulations until the conclusion of a case [brought against it], the clause in the MHP bylaws which states ‘elections cannot be held in snap congresses,’ is still valid,” the Çankaya district election board said in its decision.
The YSK gathered on June 28 in order to evaluate the dissidents’ objections to the decision but endorsed the Çankaya election board’s sentence ruling out a snap congress on July 10.
The Supreme Court of Appeals also ruled against the dissidents on June 28, when it said it would wait until the local court’s ruling to evaluate the validity of amendments to the party’s internal regulations during the June 19 conventions.
“Upon understanding that a trial has opened to cancel a congress and the 3rd Civil Court of First Instance in Ankara has issued a stay of execution on the trial, it was decided to evaluate changes made to the party bylaws during the MHP’s Extraordinary Grand Congress on July 19, 2016, after the court reaches a final verdict on the cancellation of the congress,” the top appeals court said in its decision.
The decisions supported Bahçeli’s remarks during the parliamentary group meeting on June 28, when he said holding an election on July 10 was “legally impossible.”
Bahçeli said they were ready to hold a festive extraordinary congress on July 10 if the YSK said there were no legal barriers against it. However, in case the YSK decided against it, the 12th Regular Congress would be held on March 18, 2018, Bahçeli stressed.
“We would start working towards that and perhaps this would be beneficial for our nation and the MHP,” he added.