MHP leadership hopeful Meral Akşener speaks out
After the recent Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) convention, I spoke to one of the candidates running for the party chair position, Meral Akşener. She was full of enthusiasm because of the success of the convention. She has now rolled up her sleeves for the planned party congress on July 10. She has started to work very hard.
“My struggle has been a tougher one than [President] Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s. He was struggling against outsiders. I am struggling against both outsiders and insiders. There was not so much slander in his time; now, for this reason, I am having a tougher struggle,” she said.
But she attributed the success of the convention to the delegates, not herself: “In the month of Ramadan, despite the fasting, on Father’s Day, in this summer heat, after a tedious journey, delegates arrived at the convention hall. In order to enter the hall, they had to walk three kilometers under the sun. So the success belongs to the MHP delegates. After a long and difficult struggle, what was called impossible has been made possible. The MHP delegates have done it.”
I asked her this at the end but let me write it at the beginning: My question was about what she saw in the eyes of the delegates, what message they gave her. She replied she saw change and the wish to govern. She went on, “The delegates want a change in the MHP. They want to be [the] government. They see that Turkey is heading toward a breaking point. They regard our convention as a convention of destiny. If they don’t see that, would they have agreed to this enduring struggle? If they don’t see that, would they travel a long way in this heat and fill the hall?”
A new situation has emerged in the MHP with the convention held on June 19. The debate is over who will organize the convention scheduled for July 10.
I spoke to the chairman of the June 10 convention, Müsavat Dervişoğlu. He said, “We will organize the convention, because with the amendment in the party statute, a delegation of three full and three substitute members was formed to organize the congress on July 10. We, that is, me and two other members, were assigned as the convention delegation.”
I asked the same question to Akşener, who said, “Our party leader made a call for an extraordinary convention on July 10, but there is no official application from the HQ. According to the amendment we made on June 19, the delegation elected at the convention will organize the party convention on July 10. Devlet Bahçeli can run for office. The delegation can meet and talk to him on this matter.”
If the headquarters does not accept this decision, in this case, she said, “Decisions were made unanimously by the supreme board delegates. I will follow up on every decision of the extraordinary convention. I will defend their rights. I will defend the legitimacy of the extraordinary congress. I will take the risk [and] defend the lawful convention; I will fight till the end.”
Other candidates objected on grounds that they were not informed of the statute change. Akşener said, “We worked with around 50 experts. Among them were the experts from universities these friends had consulted. The basic logic here was this: We have made the supreme board delegates a top command and a top organ.
These friends did some work but we had some extra work. Separately, they had the right to object but they didn’t. There is no secret or hidden fact in this process. However, in the squeezed atmosphere of the convention, I did not have the opportunity to share it with friends, but these decisions were made unanimously. There is not a simplest thing in favor of Meral Akşener in this. This has nothing to do with me.
With these changes we have made the delegates the ultimate decision-makers. At first, provincial heads convened. They suggested names for the organizing committee. I accepted these even though we already had collected two-thirds of the signatures. We were suggested the name of Aksaray provincial head Ayhan Erel. Trabzon was suggested to Koray Aydın and Iğdır was suggested to Sinan Oğan. They did not accept these names; they came up with different names. The convention met through the call of this delegation. What I am saying is that, I have been acting with gentlemanly conduct since the beginning.”