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İYİ Party leader Akşener resigns, calls for emergency convention

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İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener on Sunday resigned as party chairwoman and announced an emergency convention to decide on new leadership.

“With the authority given to me by our party bylaws, I have decided to call a congress for elections. I will not be a candidate at the congress. I wish success to my colleagues who run,” Akşener tweeted.

The decision came after a two-day party meeting to evaluate last month’s presidential and parliamentary elections results.

Akşener was seen as a strong challenger to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during the election campaign, but Republican People’s Party (CHP) presidential candidate Muharrem İnce outperformed her with his massive rallies.

In the general election, Akşener’s İYİ Party garnered 9.96 percent of the vote, and since presidential candidates cannot simultaneously run for a parliamentary seat she stayed out of parliament.

However İYİ Party officials, including vice chairman Koray Aydın, stated that they would again nominate Akşener for the party’s top position.

Spokesperson Aytun Çıray on Monday held a press conference at party headquarters in Ankara, stating that Akşener’s decision to resign over underachievement is “rare in Turkish history.”

According to Muharrem Sarıkaya, a columnist for the Habertürk news website, Akşener decided to resign over some party official’s social media posts about her.

She had served as interior minister for seven months between 1996 and 1997 when the right-wing True Path Party (DYP) and Islamist Welfare Party (RP) ruled in a coalition government.

Later, she joined the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), where she eventually became a fierce critic of party leader Devlet Bahçeli for his decision to form an alliance with Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP).

An opposition group inside the MHP had left the party in 2017 and founded the İYİ Party, which participated in the elections in alliance with the main opposition CHP and the Islamist Felicity Party (SP).

After Akşener’s resignation, MHP leader Bahçeli stated that “the lady [Akşener] will be a great help for democracy” and should have stayed in her position. The MHP’s vice chairman Semih Yalçın also announced that they would welcome İYİ Party deputies if they wanted to return to the party.

Some İYİ Party supporters gathered on Sunday in front of Akşener’s house asking her not to leave.

The party will hold an emergency convention in August.

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