Akşener to announce her candidacy to lead MHP on Wednesday

MERVE AYDOĞAN @mgulaydogan
Published 20.11.2015 20:46

Following repeated defeats in elections, criticism of the chairmanship of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has begun with party opposition figures challenging the party's current chairman, Devlet Bahçeli. Former Parliament Deputy Chairwoman Meral Akşener, who was not included on the MHP's candidate list for the Nov. 1 elections despite having a strong voice in the party, will reportedly announce her candidacy for the MHP leadership on Nov. 25, the birthday of MHP founder Alparslan Türkeş.

After Akşener announces her candidacy in a press briefing, it has been reported that other candidates will also announce their candidacies one by one in efforts to keep the opposition against Bahçeli active. Along with Akşener, there are three other MHP figures who are likely to run – Sinan Oğan, a former MHP Iğdır deputy who was expelled from the party before the June 7 elections but returned after the Nov 1 elections; former Deputy Chairman Süleyman Sazak and Selim Kaptaoğlu, who was Alparslan Türkeş's deputy secretary-general. Former MHP Deputy Koray Aydın is also expected to run even though he has kept a low profile.

Sources allege that while the candidates for the MHP chairmanship will campaign without criticizing each other, Akşener has gained enough votes – 249 – to call for an extraordinary congress. The party's headquarters, however, continue to say the opposition group in the MHP cannot find enough votes of support, which means Bahçeli will remain party chairman. The possible candidates are expected to follow their own agendas, but if one gets more signatures of support then all the other possible candidates, they will supposedly unite around that person. Akşener also aims to not criticize Bahçeli in efforts to embrace all groups in the party. It has also been indicated that Akşener's policy includes making the MHP the ruling party in a single-party government in which the chairman of the party becomes prime minister.

After the results of the Nov. 1 elections in which the MHP's votes dropped from around 16 percent to 11.9 percent, party dissidents started to question the party's years of failure and decided to try to elect a new chair. The Ankara-based Objective Research Center (ORC) conducted a public survey shortly following the Nov. 1 elections regarding Turkey's political agenda. The survey found that support for the MHP dropped to 10.5 percent as 42 percent of participants were unsatisfied with Bahçeli's leadership.

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