Turkey’s opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will back the re-election of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan instead of fielding a presidential candidate of its own in 2019, the state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.
“The Nationalist Movement Party will not nominate a candidate for the presidential election,” MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli told reporters in Ankara on Monday, adding, “The MHP has decided to back President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the presidential election.”
Bahçeli added that his party might forge an alliance with the ruling Justice and Development (AKP) in the presidential election.
Ahead of a constitutional referendum last April, the two parties campaigned for approval of a sweeping package of amendments that changed the system of governance in Turkey from a parliamentary system to an executive presidential model, in the process significantly expanding Erdoğan’s powers.
Next year’s presidential election will be Turkey’s first under the new presidential system of governance.
Bahçeli also spoke about his party’s stance against the candidacy of former President Abdullah Gül in the 2019 election, saying Gül’s candidacy “cannot be explained.”
“It is good for him not to be agitated by some people,” he said, a possible reference to a recent statement by Gül that urged the revision of an emergency rule decree issued by the government in December that gives immunity to civilians who take part in thwarting coup and terror incidents.
Gül’s recommendation caused a firestorm in the government, with Erdoğan calling him a troublemaker.
Gül, a co-founder of the ruling AKP, served as president of Turkey between 2007 and 2014.