Founded in 1969 in the Cold War era as an anti-communist fascist party, Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and its leader Devlet Bahçeli have become a hot topic recently as the party lends an overt support to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP).
As some claim that the failed coup in July 2016 became a breaking point for the fascist MHP party’s apparent support to Erdoğan and AKP government, Turkey’s recent political history shows that the fascist party and its leader Bahçeli have always backed Erdoğan’s manoeuvres whenever he faced political challenges.
MHP PAVED THE WAY FOR ERDOĞAN IN 2002
By the time Erdoğan founded the AKP party in August 2001, Turkey had been governed by the coalition government of then-Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit’s Democratic Left Party, Bahçeli’s MHP party and Mesut Yılmaz’s Motherland Party.
However, the coalition partner MHP called for early elections scheduled to be held in November 2002, culminating in the victory of Erdoğan’s newly-born AKP party while all the three coalition parties could not pass the 10% electoral threshold. Bahçeli’s fascist party played a key role in paving the way for Erdoğan’s longstanding rule in Turkey.
The Turkish parliament rejected a proposal in March 2003 that would enable the U.S. to use the country as a launch pad for the invasion of Iraq as tens of thousands of protesters chanted slogans, "No to war!", near the parliament building.
Bahçeli and Erdoğan became unpleased with the parliamentary voting results. "The parliament predominated by the AKP in 2003 could not agree on the memorandum, weakening Turkey in Iraq," Bahçeli said regretfully although his party was out of the parliament.
BAHÇELİ CATALYZED THE PRESIDENCY OF ABDULLAH GÜL
As Turkey witnessed the mass Republic Protests in 2007, just before the start of the presidential election process, to prevent the victory of an Islamist candidate from the AKP party, the constitutional court decided that a quorum of two-thirds of the parliamentary seats was necessary, which was impossible without opposition support against the ruling AKP party.
As Erdoğan’s governing party nominated Abdullah Gül for the presidency, Bahçeli declared his decision not to boycott the elections in favour of the AKP party, eventually leading to the presidency of Islamist Gül, Erdoğan’s predecessor.
SUPPORT TO ERDOĞAN DURING THE CLOSURE TRIAL OF AKP
When Turkey’s Constitutional Court launched a closure trial of AKP in 2008 for becoming 'a centre for anti-secular activities’, Bahçeli and his MHP party backed the ruling party on the grounds that "the closure trial would lead to deeper political impacts."
The fascist MHP party has unconditionally supported Erdoğan and his party in the government’s Islamic and misogynist attacks particularly in the field of education and cultural life until today.
BAHÇELİ: ANTI-LABOUR, PRO-MARKET AND PRO-IMPERIALIST
Furthermore, the MHP party has always advocated the government when anti-worker laws and regulations were passed in the parliament. Thus, the AKP could easily privatize all the public entities of the country.
Bahçeli’s anti-labour and pro-market stance has remained at the forefront all the time. His party also supported the government during all the parliamentary memorandums to attack Turkey’s neighbours Syria and Iraq.
BAHÇELİ’S HUGE SUPPORT TO ERDOĞAN AFTER FAILED COUP
The biggest support of MHP to Erdoğan’s government came in 2016 following the failed coup. As the AKP government was planning for a presidential system in Turkey in the aftermath of the coup attempt amid state of emergency, Bahçeli said, "If the AKP brings its plans to parliament … I believe a reasonable outcome will be achieved," hinting that his party would back the project.
As Erdoğan's party decided to hold a constitutional referendum in April 2017, Bahçeli became the leading megaphone of Erdoğan's 'yes' campaign in order to change Turkey’s parliamentary system to a presidential system that brings grip on executive power.
In this process, the Bahçeli leadership expelled all the dissident party members, who declared to participate in the 'no' campaign, from the MHP party. This led to the birth of the 'Good Party' under the lead of Meral Akşener, yet another ultra-nationalist figure and an ex-interior minister.
Having announced in April 2014 that "Erdoğan could not be a president", Devlet Bahçeli totally reversed his tone and has become the feverish sycophant of Erdoğan. So much so that he supports the AKP-led state of emergency and unlawful decrees more than the AKP seniors do.
Even if Erdoğan himself has not declared his candidacy for the presidential election scheduled to be held in 2019, Bahçeli has already announced that his MHP party will support Erdoğan and his government.
Having left his mark on the Turkish political history as a man who paved the way for Erdoğan’s longstanding AKP rule, the President's yes-man Devlet Bahçeli and his fascist MHP party seem to give Erdoğan a blank check on the road to a presidential system in the country.