AKP discusses ‘pros and cons’ of MHP’s early endorsement of Erdoğan

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The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is currently debating the pros and cons of the Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) early decision to back President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the 2019 election, according to sources.

Despite the long-standing alliance between the MHP and the AKP vis-a-vis the constitutional amendment charter, AKP members have been discussing the possible outcomes of an AKP-MHP alliance, questioning the motive behind MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli’s “early” endorsement.

Following Bahçeli’s announcement, the two party leaders held a closed meeting on Jan. 10 without making any statements afterwards.

AKP sources said the MHP’s base had raised its expectations of potential benefits to be gained from forming an alliance with the ruling party.

A source has said demands have been made concerning appointments, reassignments and tenders.

Some have argued that Bahçeli decided on the early initiative in order to strengthen his party’s demands during the period of legislative harmonization, a time when current laws are updated to fully implement the constitutional amendment.

The MHP is pushing for legislative changes in laws concerning political parties and the electoral system in order to allow pre-election alliances.

The existing legislation does not allow for more than one party to stand in elections. This needs to change if the MHP wants to enter a pre-election alliance with the AKP and also keep its political entity after the election.

The nationalist party also wants to pass the ten-percent electoral threshold, over which the MHP currently does not pass, according to recent polls.

Different voices within the AKP

According to the sources that spoke to daily Hürriyet, different voices from within the ruling party predict different possible outcomes to an AKP-MHP pre-election alliance.

On one hand, some AKP members say Bahçeli is aiming to consolidate his nationalist base and prevent vote-loss through an alliance with the AKP. On the other hand, some members think the MHP will lose votes regardless of any alliance.

“The MHP base thinks the AKP forms alliances with other factions on an ad-hoc basis, according to changing needs. That is why the MHP does not trust the AKP,” a source has said.

Another source that opposes the alliance has said “the MHP should not be trusted.”

“Given that the MHP leader has changed his stance on various issues during critical periods in Turkish politics, we should take a close look at the beneficiaries of those changes,” another source has said.

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