The MHP leadership case

The MHP leadership case

Let’s review the complicated situation regarding the court case concerning the Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) extraordinary party convention.  

Dissidents within the MHP, unhappy with Devlet Bahçeli’s leadership, reached the required number of signatures and requested an extraordinary convention. 

According to Article 63 of the MHP statute: “No elections can be held at extraordinary conventions.”

Opponents wanted to first change this article and then have an election to renew the party’s chair and its administration.  

The MHP administration rejected this. The dissidents then took their case to a local court in Ankara. The Ankara 12th Court of Peace ruled on April 8 that the MHP should hold an extraordinary convention, appointing a three-person trustee panel to oversee this work. 

Legally, this decision was correct. If an adequate number of delegates have requested a congress and the party administration has not complied, then legally a court should appoint a three-person team to plan the convention.

The MHP administration challenged this decision at the Supreme Court of Appeals, claiming that the real authority for such a ruling was with the Constitutional Court. This was wrong because the Constitutional Court’s power concerning political parties is restricted to party closures, warnings, and control of parties’ monetary affairs. 

The Supreme Court of Appeals delayed the file unjustifiably. I won’t get into political interpretations of this delay, but I can say that such a delay was not at all “ordinary and routine.” 
Eventually, the Supreme Court of Appeals approved the local court’s convention decision unanimously and the decision was finalized.

Now, both law and political ethics call for this decision to be executed. The MHP’s extraordinary convention should be held by the trustee panel. 

However, the MHP administration said although it respected the decision of the court, it had now already decided to hold an extraordinary convention. This means that it will hold the convention without actually executing the court decision.

This is a complicated and strange situation. The appointed trustee panel, with the power granted by Turkey’s political party law and the court ruling, will convene an extraordinary congress. Separately, the MHP administration, again with the powers it gets from the party law, will convene its own extraordinary congress.

It will be like two separate parties holding conventions. 

If that happens, will the MHP have to go to court again? All members of the party should see the absurd situation to which they are being dragged.  

Most important is how Turkey will be affected by these circumstances. It would not be good at all for Turkey’s opposition forces to be weakened even further. 

The reason that the MHP administration is now saying it will convene an extraordinary congress is clear: It wants to prevent the approved extraordinary convention decision by the trustee panel. 

It is impossible to defend this legally because there is a very fundamental principle in law: “The law does not protect the abuse of power/rights.” What’s more, it cannot be legally justified, because unless the MHP’s statute article saying there cannot be a leadership election at an extraordinary convention is changed, the party administration cannot convene an “election” congress. 

I know well the honest and clean approach taken by Bahçeli throughout the MHP’s history. Now, he should not act simply like the head of a narrow faction within the party; he should act like the wise person of the movement and pave the way for an extraordinary convention to be held in line with the court decision.

Whatever the outcome of such a convention, Bahçeli would then be held in much higher esteem.