The mavericks of the conservative Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have convened their alternative extraordinary convention thus creating more confusion in the Turkish ultranationalist ranks rather than calming the troubled waters.
Why is the MHP so important in the Turkish political scene?
The answer is twofold. One is the fact that the MHP is the leading ultranationalist political force in Turkey that controls nationalist youths. These are the young people who fought against the left-wing students in the 1970s and thus created chaos in Turkey resulting in the 1980 military coup. MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli has kept these young people off the streets and thus prevented a possible clash between Turkish nationalists and Kurds that could have pushed the country into turmoil and even civil war.
The other reason why the MHP is important is its key role in the political set up in Parliament. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) could use the backing of the 40 deputies the party has in Parliament to push through constitutional changes and thus open the way for a referendum... Without the MHP backing, the AK Party cannot achieve much success in Parliament to push through a presidential system or allow the president to become a member of a political party.
Meanwhile, the Gülen criminal organization is also interested in controlling the MHP and is said to be using Meral Akşener, one of the rebel leaders in the MHP, for this purpose. The Gülen people want to use the MHP to stall the AK Party and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan...
So the mavericks launched their campaign in Ankara over the weekend, they convened an extraordinary convention which was granted to them as a right by court order despite objections by the MHP leadership. Bahçeli and his people kept away from the Sunday convention and called it illegal. Akşener and four other maverick MHP leaders were present at the convention that decided to change the statute of the party and allow the election of a new party chairman in the next convention, which they set for July 10. But the convention created more confusion than solutions. The MHP has around 1,200 convention delegates yet according to the Notary figures only 659 delegates attended the convention. The mavericks claimed about 750 people attended the event. However, even all these figures are not enough to make a statute change because according to MHP rules you need the votes of at least two-thirds of the delegates to carry out any statute changes.
There was also discourse among the maverick leaders. Some of them were angry saying Akşener had imposed her will on the others and had forced some statute changes that had not been discussed among the maverick leaders.
So with all the confusion, all that the Sunday convention did was further complicate the picture and create more dismay among the MHP supporters as well as the rank and file.
The MHP headquarters on the other hand has said the extraordinary convention set by the party leadership will be held on July 10. Bahçeli has said he will allow a ballot for the chairmanship of the party and he too will be a candidate. However, such an election is impossible without first changing the statute... The mavericks have changed the statute at their own convention but if it is valid remains to be seen. All in all the mess in the MHP is continuing unabated. This is causing serious blows to the Turkish nationalists and bringing their cause into disrepute...