Skip to main content

How a Turkish opposition party turned pro-Erdogan

The latest episode in Turkey’s political games sees both the government and the leadership of the opposition Nationalist Action Party (MHP) combine forces to fend off the opposition within the MHP.

On May 15, four prominent politicians of Turkey's third-largest party, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), headed to a hotel in Ankara. They had invited thousands of supporters, including hundreds of party delegates, and they were planning to have a "snap party congress," as announced beforehand. But they found the hotel blocked by a squadron of policemen, who were ready to use tear gas and water cannons to disperse them. After a few hours of people shouting and several brief press statements, the politicians and the crowd dispersed; the MHP snap congress did not take place — at least for now.

This news was welcomed by many. First and foremost by Devlet Bahceli, the current leader of the MHP who seems determined to keep his position. He has been the party chair since 1997, but his popularity has rapidly declined in the last year, as his dull leadership is largely seen as the reason for the party's decline in votes, from 16.3% to 11.9% in just five months. An opposition has grown within the MHP that blames Bahceli for keeping the party weak and that says he is guilty of “treason.”

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.