President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli met on the afternoon of Jan. 10, following the latter’s call for a pre-election alliance between the MHP and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
“I should particularly emphasize Mr. Bahçeli’s nationalist stance ahead of the elections,” Erdoğan said at the meeting, vowing that the “spirit of unity” formed by the alliance will “destroy the plans of those who want to divide Turkey.”
“We will come together with Mr. Bahçeli and we’ll discuss the problems of our country. We hope to walk together into the future,” he said.
Erdoğan particularly referred to upcoming work on adjusting electoral laws in order to make the pre-election alliance possible. Current laws do not allow parties to form official pre-election alliances.
Bahçeli had on Jan. 8 declared open support to Erdoğan’s nomination in the presidential election scheduled for 2019, in a move that was welcomed by Erdoğan with an invitation to discuss such a partnership.
“I attach great importance to Mr. Bahçeli’s statements. On behalf of myself, my party and my people, I want to express my gratitude to him for announcing his support to me. It’s obvious that the 2019 elections will be a contest between nationalists and those who are under [foreign] control,” Erdoğan said at his AKP’s parliamentary group meeting on Jan. 9.
Bahçeli had said the MHP will not present a candidate for 2019 presidential elections as it would seek an alliance with the AKP instead.
“This alliance will also continue in the subsequent five years to ensure that the new governance system is rooted and lasting,” Bahçeli said.
“The immediate realization of legal harmonization is another item on the agenda,” the MHP leader added, referring to current legal prohibitions on existing political parties formally entering elections together.
Turkey is scheduled to hold simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections in November 2019, which will also mark the start of a new era as it will see an executive presidential model become fully implemented. The new system abolished the position of the prime minister and hands all executive powers to the president.
Bahçeli’s MHP has been in close cooperation with the ruling party since the July 2016 military coup attempt. Through its votes at parliament the MHP played a vital role in Erdoğan’s plan to shift Turkey’s political system from the current parliamentary system to an executive presidency, which was narrowly approved in a referendum in April 2017.