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Bahçeli’s Alliance Offer: Is He Sending a Warning Message to Erdoğan through Akşener?

Bahçeli’s Surprise Offer of Alliance to İYİ Party for Local Elections

Devlet Bahçeli, who has been troubled by the purge of police chiefs and governors close to Süleyman Soylu and the MHP in the police force and the civil service, unexpectedly made an alliance proposal to İYİ Party Leader Meral Akşener for the upcoming local elections. Bahçeli’s message was conveyed through a note from MHP Deputy Chairman İsmail Özdemir to Hande Fırat, a columnist for Hürriyet newspaper. The message included the words, “We called, you didn’t return to the nest; let’s be neighbors in local governance for the good of the country.”

Reference to Erdoğan and Abdülkadir Selvi

The fact that the message was conveyed through Hande Fırat, who was on the stage with President Erdoğan during the July 15th theater on CNN Türk via Facetime connection, is significant. Besides being a positive signal towards Erdoğan, it was also noteworthy due to Hande Fırat’s partnership with Abdülkadir Selvi, who was heavily targeted with severe insults by MHP Deputy Chairmen Semih Yalçın and İzzet Ulvi Yönter last week.

Wasn’t the Call Made for the Cumhur Alliance?

Another noteworthy aspect of the message was that the call was not made explicitly in the name of the Cumhur Alliance. Bahçeli neither made the call on behalf of the Cumhur Alliance nor asked Akşener to join the Cumhur Alliance. It seemed as if Bahçeli’s message was an invitation for an alliance only between the MHP and İYİ Party. It is evident that İYİ Party does not want to align itself with the other components of the Cumhur Alliance, particularly the AKP.

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“If Nationalists Want to Form a League, We’re Ready”

A significant statement indicating that Bahçeli’s alliance invitation could be between the MHP and İYİ Party came from İYİ Party Deputy Chairman Mehmet Tolga Akalın. Akalın stated to Tamga Türk website, “If Mr. Bahçeli is calling for a third way, that is, if he wants to establish a league of nationalists, we are already there. Let him come. But if he is giving away Turkish nationalism under the leadership of a political Islamist, then he is doing what he should, and we don’t need it.”

Meral Akşener Stirring Negotiations

The events of the past week show that Bahçeli is both trying to send a message of being upset with Erdoğan, who has been using the Sinan Ateş assassination attempt as blackmail material against the MHP, and deriving courage from Meral Akşener’s attempt to not appear alongside the Nation Alliance since the elections. For these two reasons, he is making an alliance call to İYİ Party for the local elections. It’s possible to interpret Akşener’s silence as an effort to avoid appearing with the CHP and as a strategy to intensify negotiations for alternative alliances. It could also be due to the prompt removal of the opposition led by six opposition leaders, referring to the main decision-making body within the CHP, as soon as Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu declared his candidacy.

This article by Ersoy Celik was originally published in Bold Media and translated into English by Politurco.

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