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Far-right leader says his party will run in elections under own banner

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In a move that raised questions about a possible fracture in an election alliance between Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the MHP leader has said his party would run in the May 14 elections under its own banner, Turkish media reported on Wednesday.

The pro-government Milliyet daily said in a report earlier this month that the MHP, whose public support is not adequate to push it over the 7 percent election threshold in the elections, according to some polls, might prepare joint lists of candidates with the AKP for the parliamentary elections in at least 10 cities.

Turkey’s 10 percent election threshold, which was much higher than thresholds in democratic nations and had been a subject of criticism for years for being anti-democratic and an obstacle barring small parties from entering parliament, was reduced to 7 percent in March 2022 in a bill that was enacted thanks to the large number of AKP and MHP lawmakers in parliament.

Dismissing the claims of preparing joint lists with the AKP in a series of tweets on Tuesday, Bahçeli said the MHP would “fight for democracy” in the general election with its own banner, which features three crescents on a red background, and candidates and would “definitely achieve the success it deserves and longs for.”

The MHP leader added that it would “not be correct, logical or reasonable” for the party to resort to including its own candidates on the AKP’s lists for the parliamentary elections, while two smaller parties that are part of the People’s Alliance — the New Welfare Party (YRP) and the Grand Unity Party (BBP) — also announced they would participate in the elections with their own party logos and candidates.

According to political analysts, Bahçeli’s move is aimed at getting more privileges from Erdoğan, who has recently brokered alliances with two small opposition parties, the YRP and the radical Islamist Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR).

A poll conducted by the ORC Research Company between March 11 and 15 showed that Erdoğan’s AKP would have garnered 28.1 percent of the vote while the far-right MHP would have received 6.3 percent in a possible election this month.

The AKP-MHP alliance received 54 percent of the nationwide vote in the 2018 general election.

Turkey’s political parties are expected to submit their candidate lists to the Supreme Election Board (YSK) for the upcoming parliamentary election on April 7.

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