Leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli has said he would choose President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over ultranationalist Homeland Party (VP) Chairman Doğu Perinçek if he had to make a choice between the two.
Bahçeli’s remarks came during his party’s parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday as he attempted to explain why his party was endorsing a “yes” vote in a referendum to be held in April on a constitutional reform package seeking to introduce an executive presidency in Turkey.
“We say ‘yes’ to the constitutional amendments. That’s why some circles are uneasy. If we had to make a choice between Perinçek and his naysayer comrades and Erdoğan, everyone should know that we would choose Mr. Erdoğan. Even if they go crazy, we will say ‘yes,’ for the nation, for the state and for the eternity of Turkishness,” said Bahçeli.
He claimed his party was being attacked by the ultranationalists and naysayers due to its support for the constitutional reforms.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), backed by the MHP, pushed through the legislation that President Erdoğan says will bring the strong leadership needed to prevent a return of the fragile coalition governments of the past.
The Republican People’s Party (CHP) and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) fear the reform will fuel authoritarianism.
The reform will enable Erdoğan to appoint and dismiss government ministers, take back the leadership of the ruling party and govern until 2029.
The plans foresee presidential and general elections in 2019, with a maximum of two five-year terms.