The fight for the MHP leadership has been destructive for the party, which boasts about the political discipline among its rank and file and its rich nationalist traditions
Turkey's ultra conservative Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is facing total chaos these days with a leadership struggle that has brought Turkey's judicial ills and political diseases into the open.
The party did badly in the Nov. 1 parliamentary elections, managing to win only 40 deputies and barely passing the compulsory 10 percent threshold to be able to enter Parliament. Its leader Devlet Bahçeli is facing a challenge for his chairmanship by four political personalities led by former minister and ex-Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Meral Akşener.
Akşener is strongly supported by the clandestine Gülen Movement, which wants to grab the nationalist movement and become a political force in Parliament to oppose the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and its founder President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The fight for the MHP leadership has been destructive for the party, a party that boasts about the political discipline among its rank and file and its rich nationalist traditions. Party workers, the youth movement called Ülkü Ocakları, are all in disarray. Some party convention delegates and even deputies feel the party cannot head for any new elections under the chairmanship of Bahçeli or they say they are doomed to lose. This strengthens the hands of Bahçeli's challengers and encourages the Gülen Movement to exploit the mess to grab indirect control of the party.
The challengers are pushing to convene an emergency convention to topple Bahçeli while Bahçeli and his colleagues are resisting.
The fight has also brought to the surface in very clear terms the sorrowful state of the Turkish judiciary. The challengers to Bahçeli have used the Gülen Movement's judges to force a convention while Bahçeli has used the independent judges to stall it. What a mess! One court rules to name caretakers who will take the party to an extraordinary convention as the challengers wish, then another court rules to annul this decision while another court again allows the challengers to hold a convention as another court rules that the convention cannot be held and that the final verdict of the Supreme Court of Appeals has to be awaited. A bewildering judicial mess…
The struggle has also brought to the surface the ills of our laws on political parties, which also need a serious overhaul. A court has treated the MHP as an "association" and thus has ruled according to the rules set for associations simply because there is no clause in the law on political parties to satisfy the needs and demands of those challenging Bahçeli's leadership. Another bewildering political mess.
The AK Party, on the other hand, needs Bahçeli's deputies to push through a constitutional change in Parliament to allow the president to become the leader of the party and possibly to allow the lifting of the parliamentary immunities of deputies so that they can be tried at courts for criminal acts. The AK Party does not have enough votes in Parliament to push through the constitutional change without a referendum. So it wants to enlist the support of MHP deputies to be able to get Parliament to approve the constitutional changes with about 330 votes and automatically send the changes to a national referendum.
The challengers in the MHP on the other hand, especially Akşener, oppose any cooperation with the AK Party and seem to be sworn to making every effort to topple Erdoğan.
Everything that has developed in the past few weeks shows we have reached the end of the road with the current political system, which needs a complete overhaul with a new constitution, judicial reform, new laws for political parties and for elections.
That is why President Erdoğan repeatedly demands a new constitution as well as a presidential system. The executive system running the country has been pushed into a dead-end.
The mess in the MHP should be an eye opener. We have a system that is falling apart and we have to put an end to this chaos.