Opposition MHP dissidents to meet Feb 18 after expulsion move by party
ANKARADissidents from the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have decided to hold a meeting on Feb. 18 in the Nazım Hikmet Congress and Culture Center after the party leadership called for the expulsions of four of its members amid internal rift between party members.
The dissident members of the MHP have previously announced that they formed a group to campaign for the “no” vote in the upcoming referendum, a move to thwart Turkey’s possible shift to an executive presidential system.
The committee, led by Meral Akşener, Sinan Oğan, Koray Aydın and Ümit Özdağ, who all tried to run for the MHP leadership last year but saw their attempt stymied by their party and the court system, will be joined by former heads of the Idealist Hearths (Ülkü Ocakları) and several other groups.
Özdağ said a declaration would be issued after the meeting.
“At the end of the meeting, we will present a declaration on why Turkish nationalists should vote ‘no,’” he told daily Hürriyet, adding that they expected all politicians and citizens who consider themselves Turkish nationalists to come to the meeting.
Özdağ said they contacted the Islamist Felicity Party (SP) and the ultranationalist Great Union Party (BBP) to ask for endorsement, noting that further meetings with other parties would also be held.
“This new constitution is one for partition and autonomy. We will tell the people about it,” he said.
Meanwhile, İsmail Ok, Yusuf Halaçoğlu, and Nuri Okutan, whose names were also referred to the Central Disciplinary Committee, spoke about the incident and have previously said they would vote “no” in the referendum.
“I own up to the party bylaws. Being expelled for these reasons is an honor for me. I will work night and day in order for the ‘no’ vote to prevail,” Ok said, adding that they would not act upon party leader Devlet Bahçeli’s will.
Okutan said the MHP’s recent meeting in the Central Anatolian province of Konya was one that took the opportunity to deem naysayers as “traitors.”
“We don’t believe we violated the party discipline, but there is immense pressure on the naysayers in Turkey. I don’t expect being expelled,” he said.
Okutan said he is an ardent opponent of the “yes” vote in the referendum, noting that he would never join the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Oğan, meanwhile, said the decision of the expulsions was not made at the meeting in Konya, but in a meeting between Bahçeli and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım.
“The main reason for the expulsions is that the MHP electorate supports us and says ‘no.’ The ‘no’ campaign bothered them. The prime minister and Bahçeli took precautions by expelling us,” Oğan said.
Turkey will hold a referendum on April 16 to decide whether to change the government system into an executive presidency, which would give vastly enhanced powers to the president, or to protect the current parliamentary system.
The “yes” vote is endorsed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the AKP and the MHP.