Interior minister losing popularity among MHP voters despite leader’s support: survey

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Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has been losing popularity among voters of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) despite the party’s leader publicly backing him in the wake of scandalous allegations made by a mob boss, according to the results of a survey.

Professor Özer Sencar, the owner of the Ankara-based MetroPOLL, announced the survey results on Twitter on Monday.

Soylu’s approval rating among voters of the MHP, an ally of Soylu’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was 55.6 percent in June over 74 percent in April.

Soylu’s approval rating among all voters since April 2020 was the lowest in May at 39.6 percent, which coincides with the time Sedat Peker, an exiled mob boss, began to release videos on YouTube about shadowy relations between government actors and the mafia.

Soylu has so far been Peker’s main target, primarily because he ordered a police raid on the gangster’s house in April when his wife and three children were home alone and because he called Peker “a dirty mafia leader” in a tweet.

Peker has claimed that it was connections to his family that had helped Soylu rise through the ranks of the right-wing True Path Party (DYP) before he joined the AKP in 2012 at the invitation of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He also claimed that Soylu helped him avoid police prosecution by notifying him that an investigation was being prepared against him, before he fled Turkey in early 2020. The mob boss further said Soylu previously told people that he and Erdoğan “liked” Peker.

Soylu, who called Peker “a dirty mafia leader,” strongly denies the allegations.

MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli has on several occasions extended his support to Soylu in the wake of Peker’s claims.

“Nobody will be able to put a leash on the interior minister of the Turkish Republic. No one will ever have the power to do it,” said Bahçeli.

Erdoğan also announced that he stands behind Soylu, but his statement came after Bahçeli’s announcement of support for the minister, leading to claims that Erdoğan was actually uneasy about Soylu but had to show his support for him in order not to break up his party’s alliance with the MHP.

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