Turkey’s governing coalition strong despite critics: Erdogan’s nationalist ally

President Tayyip Erdogan’s nationalist ally pledged his loyalty to their government coalition on Tuesday and dismissed media speculation about cracks in the alliance amid a recent reform push as “incomprehensible dirty rumors”.

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli’s attack on critics of the government came after Erdogan vowed earlier this month a new era of judicial reforms, after years of growing criticism from opponents at home and allies abroad.

The MHP has attracted criticism from opposition parties in recent days over their nationalist rhetoric while several newspaper reports have suggested there were problems in their alliance with Erdogan’s AK Party (AKP).

In a speech to MHP lawmakers in parliament, Bahceli said “cowards, plotters and swindlers” were targeting the so-called People’s Alliance between his party and the AKP.

“The People’s Alliance is Turkey’s only hope, its only guarantee against the world,” he said. “Our relationship with our president is so consistent, balanced, uncalculating, unplanned, principled, and based on mutual respect that enemy heads cannot understand.”

Bahceli also described as a “terror lover” a former top government figure who called last week for the release of two high-profile prisoners charged separately after a failed coup in 2016: a Kurdish political leader and a philanthropist.

Former deputy prime minister Bulent Arinc had called for the release of the two, Selahattin Demirtas and Osman Kavala, after Erdogan last week promised judicial reforms would come in the new year.

The comments by Arinc – a member of the Presidency’s High Advisory Board – had raised expectations that Erdogan’s AKP was intent on burnishing its approach to the rule of law, which opposition parties and Western allies say is influenced by politics.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is also expected to toughen bilateral ties with Turkey.

But Bahceli on Tuesday slammed the comments by Arinc, after Erdogan himself dismissed them on Sunday.

In the face of the criticism directed at him, Arinc said on Tuesday he had resigned from the presidential advisory board.

“It is clear that Turkey needs reforms in the judiciary, economy and other areas,” Arinc said in a statement on his Twitter account, but said he had quit his post over concerns that the controversy would obstruct reform work.


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