The leader of the New Welfare Party (YRP) has announced that his party will not take part in any election alliance including that of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and that he will run as a candidate in the presidential election slated for May, Turkish media outlets reported.
As Turkey heads toward presidential and parliamentary elections on May 14, election alliances are seeking to expand with the addition of new parties.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose AKP is part of the Public Alliance, which also includes the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the nationalist Grand Unity Party (BBP), recently asked the YRP to join the alliance, with party officials visiting the YRP last week.
YRP Chairman Fatih Erbakan on Monday announced his party’s decision and said he will run as a presidential candidate himself. He said he would file an application with the country’s election authority later on Monday.
Fatih Erbakan is the son of the late former prime minister Necmettin Erbakan, a leading figure of Turkey’s Islamist movement who had formed the Welfare Party (RP) in 1983. Erdoğan started his political career in the RP but in 2002 decided to part ways with Erbakan and the “conventional” Islamist movement and established the AKP along with former president Abdullah Gül.
There were claims that the YRP, which has a conservative voter base, submitted a wish list of 30 articles to the AKP which included a demand for the repeal of a law for the prevention of violence against women as a condition for joining Erdoğan’s political alliance.
The fact that Erdoğan sought the support of a small opposition party that does not even have 1 percent of the nationwide vote has led to allegations that Erdoğan feels his 20-year-rule is under serious threat.
More and more opinion surveys show Erdoğan lagging behind Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the presidential candidate of an opposition bloc of six parties.
Erdoğan’s popularity has suffered mainly due to the erosion of the standard of living caused by depreciation of the Turkish lira and runaway inflation.
The government’s poor and ineffective response to two powerful earthquakes in the country’s south last month that claimed more than 50,000 lives and left millions homeless has also contributed to Erdoğan’s loss of support.