The head of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the sole opposition party in parliament backing the ruling party’s constitution amendment bid, has said he would prefer President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to the camp of naysayers.
“I openly announce it here. Everyone should understand that if I have to make a choice between Doğu Perinçek and his naysayer comrades and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, I would pick Mr. Erdoğan absolutely and with no exception,” party leader Devlet Bahçeli said, while addressing his party deputies in a weekly speech on Feb. 7.
Perinçek is the leader of Turkey’s Patriotic Party (VP), a leftist-nationalist movement under the veteran politician.
The MHP will vote “yes” in the upcoming referendum to preserve the eternity of the Turkish state, the party’s leader has said.
“We will say ‘yes’ for the people, ‘yes’ for the state, ‘yes’ for the republic and ‘yes’ for the eternity of the Turkish state,” Bahçeli said.
His words came amid criticism from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) accusing the MHP of complicity in the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) zealous rush to change the constitution. He said his party remained unchanged in its stance on the presidential system.
“We say ‘yes’ to a presidential governance system, not to the presidency. We say ‘yes’ to a systemic regeneration, to debunk the lies of the CHP, who are supporting a regime change and are standing alongside terrorists,” he said.
Bahçeli stressed Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s earlier comments regarding naysayers, who had said the opponents of the constitutional changes were composed of terrorist organizations.
Bahçeli said the CHP was standing side by side with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP), Party of Labor (EMEP) and the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP).
Some of the Idealist Hearths (Ülkü Ocakları), an organization with close ties to the MHP, have also said they will vote “no” in the referendum, as have a number of MHP deputies.
“They’ve asked us why we would say ‘yes.’ Do we ask them about it? They even asked why we went after the AKP and the president. We are not running after anyone,” he said.
“We are saying ‘yes’ to the survival of the system, not to a person. We are not saying ‘yes’ to a party, an ideology, a segment or a thought, but we are saying ‘yes’ to the continuity of the Turkish Republic,” he said.
Recalling his initial comments which directed him to support the constitutional amendment, Bahçeli said the charter changes were necessary because the present de facto presidential system was violating the current constitution.
“[But] if anyone has hostile plans for the first four articles of the [current] constitution, they have to pass over our dead bodies,” he said.