Turkish nationalist party re-elects Bahçeli for sixth time

The increase in the number of candidates is attributed to a call from Bahçeli saying that anyone in the congress who wanted to run could do so.

Turkish nationalist party re-elects Bahçeli for sixth time

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) held its 10th Regular Congress on Sunday, in what was an unusual event that saw many firsts, including a fierce fight for the party leadership -- a rare occurrence at MHP congresses -- and elected its incumbent leader Devlet Bahçeli for the sixth time.

Sunday's congress was the first time there was more than one candidate running for party leadership since 2003, as well as the first time delegates voted on alternative candidate lists to elect the members of the Central Executive and Steering Committee.

Ten candidates, including current party leader Bahçeli, ran for the post of MHP chairperson. The increase in the number of candidates is attributed to a call from Bahçeli saying that anyone in the congress who wanted to run could do so. According to the MHP's lobby, emphasizing intra-party democracy, Bahçeli had called for interested party members to run for the post of chairperson, stating: “Whoever wishes to do so can apply for candidacy. I promise this.” Under MHP bylaws, the support of at least 40 delegates is needed for a nomination.

Bahçeli did not have a rival in MHP's 2009 congress and received 1,171 votes. In Sunday's congress he garnered only 725 votes. Bahçeli's chief rival, Aydın, received 441 votes in Sunday's convention, a steep increase from the 2003 congress, when he received 137 votes.

Sunday's congress saw the clash of two theories about what the MHP should be. It was described as a battle between being a “party of the masses” vs. “a party of political cadres.” Koray Aydın, the party's Trabzon deputy, was the strongest rival to challenge the leadership of MHP Chairman Bahçeli. In his speech at the congress, Aydın emphasized the need to bring the MHP to power, while Bahçeli emphasized the importance of MHP delegates and cadres.

Aydın in his speech said a strong MHP is needed for a strong Turkey, a statement greeted by a large round of applause from the audience. He said he will bring the MHP closer to the people if he is elected.

Bahçeli, on the other hand, emphasized the importance of staying true to party values while increasing votes to come to power. He accused both the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) of bringing Turkey to the brink of disintegration with their policies over the past 10 years. He said the MHP remains the only political party that still has a national stance, noting that a change in leadership of the party to get more votes would cause the MHP to make the same errors as the government and main opposition.

“We will show that we can serve in the government staying as ourselves, without giving up our principles, opinions and ideals.”

Bahçeli also criticized Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's goals set for 2071. “There is no Turkish nation in these goals; there is no Turkey. The Turkish motherland doesn't exist in the 2071 target list of the prime minister. Erdoğan's secret agenda is to see an Anatolia that has been sent backward by ethnic clashes, paralyzed by internal turmoil, where saying you are a Turk is a crime and the republic is dead.” He described the AK Party government as the fifth period of collapse in the past 1,000 years of Turkish states.

Bahçeli struck a theme of “national existence of Turks and the terrorism problem” in his speech, for the first time, not mentioning any other problems of the country. In a nine-item list setting out the party's goals with which he ended his speech, he emphasized the words “Turkish identity” and the “Republic of Turkey.”

Also, for the first time in any congress, Bahçeli sent his greetings to Silivri Prison, where most suspects in the coup-attempt trials Ergenekon and Balyoz are being kept. Tuğrul Türkeş, the MHP Party Council chairman, read out loud a message from Engin Alan, an MHP deputy jailed as a suspect in the Balyoz trial.


Last Mod: 05 Kasım 2012, 18:01
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