How long will the People’s Alliance last?
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is also the leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli have announced that their parties will not form an alliance for the upcoming local elections. In response to Bahçeli who announced there would be no alliance in the local polls, Erdoğan said: “Everyone will go their separate ways.”
But the two leaders have at the same time announced that the “People’s Alliance,” which they had formed prior to the June 24 elections, will continue. Well, how will this alliance continue then?
Bahçeli had said that the People’s Alliance was necessary for the survival of the state. But Bahçeli’s “No People’s Alliance in the local polls” statement raised a question: Is the survival of the state not valid in the local polls? The AKP has not focused on this point very much; they have just said the People’s Alliance would continue in parliament regarding the fundamental issues of the country. “We’ll protect the understanding formed by the People’s Alliance,” Erdoğan said.
The People’s Alliance has succeeded in many things. It has taken Turkey from a parliamentary system to a presidential system. We have reached this point thanks to President Erdoğan’s will and Bahçeli’s rigor. But is it possible that these two leaders are standing by the People’s Alliance today like they did in the initial days of the alliance? The alliance is continuing partially, but its soul is dead.
When Bahçeli announced there would no longer be an alliance with the AKP in the local elections, during his group parliamentary meeting, MHP members had strongly applauded him. When I witnessed the enthusiasm of the alliance being broken at the MHP meeting, I got curious about the mood at the AKP headquarters.
I have to confess that the moment I set foot in the AKP headquarters on Oct. 24 I was expecting dispiritedness or at least resentment. But I got surprised. The picture that I saw was almost the same as what I had witnessed last week when I revisited the party headquarters. There was no extraordinary mood.
Some sort of dynamism was prevalent at the headquarters due to the local elections. As it had become clear that no alliance would be formed at the local polls, uncertainty was no longer the case. The AKP’s local governances’ presidency is currently continuing works to determine their candidates in the face of the new situation. Three issues have come forth regarding the AKP’s road map: To continue the People’s Alliance with the MHP, to continue campaign preparations for the local elections, and to maintain a careful language against the MHP and Bahçeli.
In every one of their statements, AKP officials emphasize the importance of the People’s Alliance and are careful with the words they pick when talking about Bahçeli. They have never targeted anyone from the MHP’s management, especially Bahçeli.
But MHP’s senior officials have not refrained from targeting the AKP regarding the issues surrounding the amnesty draft bill, U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson, and a plane gifted to Erdoğan from Qatar. Erdoğan had instructed his party to “try to find a solution” on the issue of forming a local alliance with the MHP just a week ago, whereas one week later, he said “Everyone will go their separate ways.” So how did the two parties end up here?
One factor is the MHP questioning the AKP about its loyalty to our national identity. Second is the MHP’s targeting of AKP MP Bekir Bozdağ over his ethnic identity. The third factor is Bahçeli’s expressing of his disappointment in Erdoğan’s remarks on the issue of an amnesty, saying the “spirit of the alliance required irrefutable and undeniable responsibilities.” In an attempt to protect the legal stance of its leader, the AKP has answered the MHP leader without using any one of the words used by Bahçeli himself. There is nothing to be surprised about here.
The MHP should not look at the conspiracy theories to explain the break of the alliance. It should instead look at its language.