Disgruntled MHP deputies manage to collect enough votes for congress

The three candidates for chairmanship — Meral Aksener, Sinan Ogan and Koray Aydin — are said to have already obtained, in total, signatures from more than 249 MHP delegates, which is the figure needed for an extraordinary congress to be held.

Rather than immediately submitting the signatures, the three deputies plan to collect a larger number of signatures in an apparent bid to show to the MHP administration the size of their support among delegates.

The three candidates’ earlier call to MHP leader Devlet Bahceli for an extraordinary congress was dismissed by Bahceli.

The party’s congress is currently scheduled to take place in March 2018, the MHP leader said.

The MHP suffered a major defeat in the Nov. 1 snap election, in which its number of deputies fell to 40, down from 80 in the general election in June.

The primary aim of those who aspire to party chairmanship is, first, to amend the extraordinary congress bylaw that forbids an election for a new chairperson in an extraordinary congress. It is after enacting such an amendment that the candidates hope to secure party leadership in another congress.

It is expected that the three candidates will submit in the coming weeks the signatures.

Should the deputies manage to push the MHP administration to hold a congress in which candidates can run for chairmanship, then the three candidates are expected to join forces and support a single candidate against Bahceli.

Bahceli previously said he would not call for a congress, even if the deputies manage to collect enough signatures. In response, the three of them said they would take the issue to court if the administration refuses to hold a congress.

The MHP has 1,220 delegates, of whom 1,100 are elected.

As the three candidates continue to struggle to get the support of a larger number of delegates, MHP leader Bahceli will in the coming days to pay visits to the party’s local offices.

It is said he is hoping in this way to convince the delegates to stick with him.

Bahceli has been widely criticized for rejecting any possible coalition following the June election that deprived the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) of its parliamentary majority for the first time since 2002.

Ogan and Aksener, who fell into disfavor with the MHP leader following the general election in June, were not allowed to run on the party’s ticket in the election on Nov. 1st.

During a live interview on television ahead of the election in November, Bahceli said in reference to Aksener, “The lady will rest a while,” implying he did not see Aksener fit to run on the MHP ticket in the last election.

Ogan was expelled from the party by Bahceli in August, but legally returned on Nov. 2 after securing a court order.

The third candidate against Bahceli, Aydin, was not elected a deputy in the last election due to the sharp fall in the MHP’s votes.