Although dissident voices against chairman Devlet Bahçeli in the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) became louder after the party's failure in the Nov.1 elections, they might face counteraction from him if the required number of delegate signatures for an extraordinary congress is not met.
Former Iğdır deputy and expelled party member Sinan Oğan announced their candidacy for chairmanship last week, and Koray Aydın and Meral Akşener are expected to announce their decision to run for the chair by Monday.
Although the ruckus caused by the rivalry is not blatantly obvious, the opposition within the party is reportedly challenging Bahçeli by attempting to collect the required number of signatures from delegates and the outcome of the extraordinary congress will shape the fate of both Bahçeli and his rivals.
Three candidates are expected to vie for the chairmanship, in the event of an extraordinary congress, and are currently working together to gather the number of signatures needed for the run. Yet, delegates seriously fear being expelled from the party because their signatures must be notarized, making their identities public knowledge. It is widely speculated that the fate of those who supported Aydın in the 2012 extraordinary congress – party expulsion and a severing of party ties – is still imprinted in the memories of party members.
Although the prevailing opinion is that reform needs to be made in the party executive team, a significant number of delegates are reportedly quite hesitant to openly oppose Bahçeli.
On the other hand, more than 500 signatures would be enough to make Bahçeli lose his seat as chairman.
According to party regulations, the number required to hold an extraordinary congress is one fifth of all delegates; currently 1,241.
Bahçeli has been chairman of the party since 1997.