Below is a brief history of the main political Parties who are standing candidates in the 22nd July Turkish general election, today I will deal with the Right-wing Parties.
The Nationalist Movement Party (also translated as ‘Nationalist Action Party’) (Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi (MHP)
Founded by Alparslan Türkeş in 1965, The party is on the far right of Turkish nationalism bordering on Fascism. Under Türkeş leadership, the MHP’s para military wing the Grey Wolves were responsible for the assassinations of opposition left wing politicians, students and others which convulsed Turkish society in the 1970’s, often in collusion with the Turkish Secret State which is made of the security services, criminal elements and military intelligence.
Its current leader Devlet Bahçeli the MHP has tried to reposition the MHP as a moderate right-wing party and a possibly coalition partner. Strange as it may seem, whilst its para military wing spent the 1960- 70 murdering leftists, after the 1999 election it became part of a coalition government that was led by veteran leftist politician Bülent Ecevit, who in the 1970s was the number one target of the Grey Wolves, such is the idiosyncrasies of Turkish politics.
True Path Party (Doğru Yol Partisi or DYP)
A right wing secular conservative party in the US or UK mould, created out of the remnants of Adnan Menderes* Democratic Party which was banned in the military coup of 1960. The party was founded by DP veteran Suleyman Demirel in 1983 but was quickly banned by the military government only to emerge freely in 1987.
Demirel became Prime minister in 1991 to be replaced by Turkey first woman PM Tansu Ciller after Demirel became President. Cillers period in office was known for its corruption, whilst not as blatant of one of her predecessors Turgut Ozal, it was pretty blatant and was one of the reasons why many on the centre right turned to Erdogans AK Party in later years..
The Motherland Party of Turkey, (ANAP)
Founded in 1983 by Turgut Özal, a favorite of the leader of the 1980 military coup General Kenan Evren, ANAP was a for runner of neo-liberal economics which have been such a disaster in much of the Third world. Özal believed the state should be totally restricted as to the role it should play; and “it should favor private capital and enterprise, and which allows for some public expressions of religion”. Under Özal the Turkish economy boomed for a while before over heating, becoming a free for all with winner takes all, and inflation hit the roof whilst the Turkish currency fell through the floor. Ozal’s watch words were enrich yourselves and make no mistake he was first in the Queue with his brother acting as bagman.
In early 2007, ANAP made an attempt to unite with the True Path Party under the name of Democratic Party. [Democrat Parti.] However so far this has come to nothing due to legal wrangling and personality clashes and both parties will be contested this election under their old names.
The Justice and Development Party [Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi or AK Party]
The AK Party comes from a line of Turkish Islamic political party’s that have come and gone since the foundation of the Republic. Its immediate for-runner the Welfare Party was broken up by the military for allegedly threatening the secular nature of the State. A faction of reformist members within the old Welfare Party formed the Justice and Development Party in 2001 with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who had become Mayor of Istanbul in 1994 as leader.
Erdoğan was a popular Mayor and even his opponents regarded him as an effective administrator. As the mayor of Turkey’s largest city, he become one of Turkey’s most admired politicians. He worked hard building up Istanbul’s in-frastructure and transportation systems, whilst beautifying the city. It has to be said AK Party mayors throughout the country have followed his example and many of Turkey cities, towns and villages are unrecognizable from the chaotic places they were prior to the AK party taking power. Unlike many of his predecessors as PM, Erdoğan is not personally corrupt nor is his party known for corrupt practice; and it is this fact that has made his Party an attractive choice at the ballot box for people of both the right and left. The worst his critics could claim about his period as Mayor of Istanbul, was that he stopped the Council owned ferries that ply their trade on the Bosporus from selling alcohol in their refreshment bars.
The AK Party is in the mould of European Christian Democratic parties, it believes in a free market but also a welfare state, including a version of free health care at point of need. The party is well organized at ground level and has a very effective election fighting machine, more often than not made up of women party activists who target voters methodically.
That concludes the main parties of the right who are contesting the election, tomorrow we will look at the Left. I would just add if one looks at the sheer greed and avarice of two if not three of the political parties I have mentioned above. One can see both why the Generals become exasperated with some of the nations political leaders and why as I have already mentioned many voters from both the left and right are prepared to give the AK Party a chance.
* Menderes was later hanged on the orders of the military.