Turkish Nationalist Party Move Closer to Ousting Leader
Dissidents in Turkey’s nationalist MHP opposition party took a step closer on Sunday to ousting their veteran leader, a move which could potentially derail President Tayyip Erdoğan’s drive for greater powers under a new constitution.
The dissidents are trying to oust Devlet Bahceli, a dour 68-year-old who has led his party since 1997 but has seen support among voters ebb despite growing nationalist sentiment in Turkey.
At an extraordinary congress on Sunday attended by 657 delegates, the dissidents managed to amend a party bylaw that will allow them to challenge Bahceli’s leadership at a meeting set for July 10.
They hope to replace Bahceli with Meral Aksener, a 59-year-old woman seen by pollsters as having the mettle needed to revitalise the MHP and increase its support. That could make Erdoğan’s ambitions harder to push through parliament.
If Bahceli survives the challenge – and many expect him to challenge the bylaw amendment in the courts – pollsters and political analysts say he could lead his party to a crushing defeat at the next election, exiting parliament and freeing Erdoğan’s hand to rewrite Turkey’s constitution.