Will Bahçeli smash the AK Party to the wall?

Will Bahçeli smash the AK Party to the wall?

One of the most significant benchmarks on the road to the presidential system was the recent meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli. It is reported they both had positive impressions from the meeting. 

Following the consensus reached at the Erdoğan-Bahçeli meeting, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) will prepare a “narrow-scoped” constitution amendment focusing on the presidential system.

Bahçeli will be able to make an evaluation after seeing the draft. They are working on a text that MHP would support. After Bahçeli’s review, the text will be redrafted for its final version. 

A while ago, President Erdoğan had said: “We have much in common with the MHP, not a little. Find the 330 seats in parliament [for a constitutional change] and I will pass it in a referendum with my nation.” Erdoğan is of the opinion that a high percentage of the people will approve the presidential system in the referendum. This expectation is mostly based on the social changes that have occurred since the July 15 military coup attempt. 

The recent “Polarization and Reconciliation Survey” conducted by polling company GENAR shows that July 15 changed the codes of Turkey to create a new sociology. According to the poll, 70 percent of society is made up of religious believers, nationalists and conservatives, while 24 percent are leftists, social democrats and socialists. 

The survey does not confirm the argument that Turkish society is polarized. On the contrary, society is not polarizing. 

Another striking result of the survey is that if a presidential election was held today, the number who say they will vote for Erdoğan has risen to 60 percent. Still, it is not this rate that boosts the hopes of the president, it is the new “sociology of the 70 percent.” This segment, with a significant contribution from the grassroots of the MHP, sees Erdoğan as the undisputed leader of Turkey. 

Is Bahçeli able to see this reality, which everyday sees? Can we say that Erdoğan and Bahçeli are walking to the presidential system hand in hand? 

Hopes for a presidential system have increased compared to previous searches, but it is still too early. Several vague statements of Bahçeli have caused doubts in certain AK Party members. “We prefer the parliamentary system,” he recently said. But the same Bahçeli has also said that “Turkey has become blocked. Moving with the mentality that my country and my nation come first, my party and myself come later. This blockage must be lifted.” 

How will that happen? The general opinion is that the MHP will open the door for the presidential system to be voted on by people.  

But this is not enough to convince those AK Party members who believe Bahçeli is setting a trap for them. There is still a considerable doubtful segment.  

This is the evaluation reached in a meeting headed by President Erdoğan. 

Some believe the situation is as follows:

Since July 15, a tremendous sympathy has accumulated for President Erdoğan in the MHP’s grassroots. We are talking about a block shift en masse. Bahçeli, to stop this grassroots erosion, brought up the presidential system, which he sees as the soft belly of AK Party. Then he brought up the issue of capital punishment. If the parliamentary vote to pass a constitutional change for the presidential system does not reach 330 seats, or if the referendum does not succeed, how will the AK Party manage? After being a one-party government with 49.5 percent of the votes, will it not be difficult for us to rule Turkey in either of these two situations? 
In such a scenario, they believe that MHP head Bahçeli could “smash the AK Party to the wall.” 

It should be said that these concerns are contrary to the general atmosphere of the president and the AK Party, who believe that Bahçeli will keep his word. But this is politics. If Bahçeli chooses to play his own game, the destination is clear: Early elections.