Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli has slammed nationalist circles that have launched a campaign against constitutional amendments that will usher in an executive presidential government system in spite of the party leadership’s vigorous support for the change.
“They are saying ‘no.’ What good have you brought to this holy cause that you have the courage to call out to our saintly nation to say ‘no,’” Bahçeli told his party’s parliamentary group Feb. 21.
His comments came after the nationalist group consisting of former and current MHP lawmakers and former heads of the Idealist Hearts (Ülkü Ocakları), which has links with the party, launched a “no” campaign at a congress on Feb. 18.
The group led by Meral Akşener, Sinan Oğan, Koray Aydın and Ümit Özdağ, who all tried to run for the MHP leadership last year but saw their attempt stymied by the party and the court system, announced that nationalist circles would campaign against the charter.
Bahçeli slammed the group for using the nationalist party’s name, challenging them to form a new party.
“Confront us with the political party that you are seeking to form so that you can learn your lesson,” he said.
“They say they are Turkish nationalists, but they do not and cannot see how they have gone off the rails in making people boo the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party and making them chant against him,” he added.
Defending the constitutional amendment, Bahçeli argued that Turkey was still in a vulnerable state under the threat of another attack from Fethullahist Terrorist Organization [FETÖ] or other “external powers.”
He said the charter would defeat such threats, while opposing the amendments would be tantamount to standing with FETÖ.
“They ask why we are saying ‘yes.’ What would we do? Stand by FETÖ?” he said. “In the wake of July 15, being at cross purposes in politics and exchanging words with the president and the prime minister are against nature until stability and national security fully prevails,” he said.
Bahçeli also stated that the MHP would support any legal regulation that would bring back the death penalty.
“I repeat, the AKP should not waste time; if they are sincere about bringing the death penalty back, it is a promise of the nationalist movement that it will give unconditional support to it,” he said.
Bahçeli was previously part of a coalition government in the early 2000s that voted to abrogate the death penalty in Turkey.