A shaky alliance


Disagreeme­nts over local elections are putting strains on the AK Party-MHP alliance

The first signs of dissension in the alliance between the AK Party and the MHP have emerged over how to proceed with the local election process. “Let’s just go our separate ways,” President and AK Party Chairman Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the AK Party Group Meeting a few hours after MHP Chairman Devlet Bahceli’s statement that there will not be an alliance in the local elections.

In fact, this developmen­t was not a surprise. Tensions and disagreeme­nts on various issues, including the plane gifted to the presidency by Qatar, the McKinsey affair and the general amnesty, have been building for some time, reaching a peak with the student oath issue. Although there will be no alliance in the local elections, both Erdogan and Bahceli have announced that the Presidenti­al Alliance will continue.

According to MHP sources, some people around Erdogan have opposed the alliance with the MHP in the local elections since the beginning while some have actively sought to block it. The same sources say that the importance Erdogan gave to Istanbul for the local elections and the AK Party’s decision to win the city by appealing to Kurdish voters caused the rift with the MHP.

Although there was no legal regulation about the alliance in the local elections, both parties could have developed a formula if they had wanted. But the AK Party’s reluctance was becoming clear in the parliament in recent weeks.

As for the Presidenti­al Alliance, the sense in Ankara is that it “will be protected” but the fallout from the split will do some damage to it. The MHP will continue its support on national issues such as maintainin­g the Presidenti­al system, the fight against terrorism, and foreign policy. However, it will increase its level of rivalry at the parliament and will no longer give unconditio­nal support in every matter. The future of the alliance will be determined by the tone of the parties. In the local elections, the two parties will operate as political opponents. The MHP will enter the race with candidates they believe will either win or receive the most votes, not with an alliance mentality. Both parties will compete with ambitious candidates in Istanbul and Ankara, and the competitio­n is expected to be cutthroat.

The CHP continues to work on selecting candidates it will nominate in local elections. Last week, it convened a Party Assembly and announced 105 mayoral candidates in counties and towns. All political parties have now entered a period in which they will announce their candidates.

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