Sinan Oğan, one of four Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputies who were referred to the party’s disciplinary board for expulsion because they disagree with party policy regarding an upcoming referendum, said their dismissal was decided by MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli following a recent meeting with Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım.
The MHP announced on Monday that deputies Yusuf Halaçoğlu, Sinan Oğan, Nuri Okutan and İsmail Ok had been referred to the party’s disciplinary board because they made statements urging people to join them in voting “no” in the referendum for a constitutional amendment package that will open the way for a switch from parliamentary to a presidential system of governance.
Speaking with the T24 news website, Oğan said the decision to refer the four MHP deputies to the disciplinary board was not taken at the MHP’s executive board meeting in Konya over the weekend but rather emerged from an unscheduled meeting between Bahçeli and Prime Minister Yıldırım last week.
“The main reason for this expulsion is that the grassroots of the MHP are behind us, and they will say ‘no’ [in the referendum],” Oğan said.
Underlining that Bahçeli had sided with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and joined the “yes” camp for the referendum, Oğan added, “They were disturbed after we joined the ‘no’ camp, and the easiest way to tackle the situation was our expulsion.”
Oğan had previously been expelled from the party in August 2015 but returned as a result of a court decision in November 2015.
“I had returned to my party earlier. However now, I am not sure if there is any court that can decide beyond the will of the palace [presidential palace],” he said.
Following his meeting with Yıldırım, MHP Chairman Bahçeli called an emergency party meeting in Konya Feb.10-12 to evaluate the referendum.
Bahçeli is under fire from some MHP deputies and voters over his support for the constitutional amendments, which have raised concerns about a one-man regime in Turkey.
Bahçeli’s remarks on the “Presidential System of Governance in Turkey” last November sparked debates on the issue, and he met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the presidential palace in Ankara following a meeting with Yıldırım.
Immediately after Bahçeli’s promise to Yıldırım to support the AKP government over the amendments, the AKP submitted the constitutional amendment package to Parliament, which passed it on Jan. 23, after which it was approved by Erdoğan on Feb. 10.
In remarks to the Cumhuriyet daily on Monday, MHP Isparta deputy Okutan said the party’s grassroots and the Grey Wolves (Ülkü Ocakları), a nationalist youth movement affiliated with the MHP, were also in the “no” camp.
“We represent the real nationalist will of the MHP grassroots. We have not been involved in any action that is against party bylaws,” he added.
MHP Balıkesir deputy Ok said the pressure by state authorities on “no” camp will continue until the day of the referendum. He underlined that he is for the strengthening of parliamentary democracy, which was promised by MHP policies to the voters.