Devlet Bahceli leads the Turkish Nationalist Movement. Photo: AA
ANKARA, Turkey – Turkish Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahceli announced on Monday that his party will have no nominee for the 2019 presidential election and that they will support the re-election of current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“MHP will have no candidate for the presidency,” said Bahceli in a meeting with journalists in Ankara broadcast by Turkish NTV, adding that his party will support Erdogan.
The 2019 elections are scheduled to be held no later than November 3 and the newly-elected president will assume the role of the prime minister, as Turkey shifts to a presidential system.
MHP is a nationalist opposition party, having 36 (out of 550) seats in Turkish parliament. It has openly showed its opposition to Kurdistan-Turkey relations.
Former MHP MP Sinan Ogan and other have already announced their possible candidacy.
Bahceli’s and his party’s support for Erdogan contradicts past statements he has made about the president. He repeatedly had said that Erdogan is not fit for presidency.
“Erdogan is not fit to be the president, as fire is not ignited in the water,” said Bahceli at a party convention in 2014.
Erdogan won nearly 52 percent of the vote in the 2014 presidential elections. The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) won nearly 10 percent of the vote with Selahattin Demirtas. Erdogan and the AKP have enjoyed Kurdish support in large cities like Ankara and Istanbul, both in elections and the 2017 referendum that greatly empowered the presidency, weakened the prime ministry, allowed the president to remain party leader, and for Erdogan to possibly stay in office until 2029.
Bahceli has accused Erdogan of supporting Kurds, having dialogue with PKK, dividing the country, shutting down YouTube, and others.
A Kurdistan flag flying next to a Turkish flag in Turkey is “scandalous, careless, and a disgrace,” Bahceli said in reference to a visit by then Kurdish President Masoud Barzani in 2017 during which the flag of Kurdistan was raised for the first time at the Istanbul airport and displayed in the meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.
As a Turkish nationalist hardliner, Bahceli spoke harshly against the Kurdistan Region’s referendum bid for independence, especially when it came to Kirkuk, a city he claims to be historically Turkish. Many ethnic Turkmen live in the diverse city with Kurds, Arabs, and other components.
He described the referendum held in Kirkuk as a “game to defeat the national security of Turkey.”
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Republican People’s Party (CHP) are the most prominent political parties in Turkey.