Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Devlet Bahçeli, leader of the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), during a rally ahead of the May 14 presidential and parliamentary elections, in Istanbul on May 7, 2023. UMIT BEKTAS / REUTERS
Devlet Bahçeli can savor, as a connoisseur, the work accomplished. At 75, the leader of the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), the largest Turkish far-right political formation, has just symbolically opened as dean, Monday, May 22, the new session of the National Assembly. He is even the president until the next election which will designate the future occupant of the perch. There is also talk of a tailor-made position for this veteran of the Gray Wolves and the nationalist cause. The Parliament resulting from the legislative elections of May 14 forms within it the most nationalist and one of the most right-wing hemicycles in the centenary history of the Turkish Republic.
Two-thirds of the people’s representatives in Ankara belong to right-wing parties: the ruling formation, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, allied with the MHP and two other parties, as well as the Good Party, member of the opposition and led by the very nationalist Meral Aksener, ex-Minister of the Interior in the 1990s, during the darkest period of anti-Kurdish repression in the Southeast, and the Party of future of former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Through the game of alliances, the son of the formidable far-right leader Alparslan Türkes, also sits in the new enclosure, as does the son of Necmettin Erbakan, short-lived first Islamist head of government (1996-1997) who was also the late mentor policy of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and whose political movement wanted to be close to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Even the AKP suffered
As journalist Mehmet Altan has pointed out, leftist or social-democratic values are now less represented in parliament than they have been for decades. Never since the founding of the Republic in 1923 have there been so many nationalist and Islamist parliamentarians. Even the outgoing president’s AKP has suffered from this push to the right of the political spectrum. The party finished with 35.5%, seven points less than in the 2018 legislative elections, one of its worst scores since its creation in 2001.
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The detail of the vote shows that Erdogan’s formation lost a significant part of its voters to the benefit of the MHP. The voters of the Good Party were also a certain number to vote in the presidential election for the former member of the MHP Sinan Ogan, surprise candidate who came in third position with 5.2% of the vote and who has just called, Monday, his voters to vote for the head of state.
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