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Erdoğan denies rift with ally, rules out early elections

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has expressed support for the continuation of his party’s alliance with a far-right party amid recent claims of a rift between the two while ruling out the possibility of holding early elections, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Speculation has been rampant about the collapse of the alliance between Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) particularly after the March 31 local elections, when the AKP sustained its worst defeat of its time in power and the MHP failed to achieve noteworthy success.

The AKP’s nationwide support stood at 35.4 percent, while the MHP garnered 4.9 percent in the local elections.

An atmosphere of “normalization” that began following the local elections between the AKP and the opposition parties, particularly with the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which came out on top in the March 31 elections, and President Erdoğan and the CHP leader’s visiting each other’s party headquarters for the first time in years has led to speculation about whether the political landscape in the country was changing. There were claims that Erdoğan and MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli might part ways and break their “Public Alliance” and establish new alliances with other parties.

Erdoğan, who met with his party organization on the occasion of the Eid al-Adha holiday on Monday, said his party would never be manipulated by people who attempt to “plant seeds of evil” and try to cause a rift in the Public Alliance with the MHP.

“The Public Alliance is the guarantee of the unity, peace and brotherhood of the 85 million [people of Turkey]. The stronger our alliance, the safer Turkey will be,” Erdoğan said.

A meeting Erdoğan had with the widow of a murdered former Grey Wolves leader at the presidential palace in Ankara last week also sparked speculation of a growing rift between Erdoğan and the MHP.

Sinan Ateş, the former leader of the Grey Wolves, was assassinated in Ankara on December 30, 2022. His widow, Ayşe Ateş, has been actively seeking justice for her husband. Ateş has previously expressed concerns over the influence of political figures, specifically MHP executives, in hindering the investigation and the prosecution of those involved in the murder.

Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç, who also attended the meeting, said Erdoğan is committed to ensuring justice for Sinan Ateş.

On the same day Erdoğan received Ayşe Ateş, Bahçeli tweeted a photo of himself on Instagram wearing a ring inscribed with “Allah is sufficient for me,” which many interpreted as a threat against Erdoğan. The photo was posted shortly before Erdoğan’s meetings with Ateş and CHP leader Özgür Özel.

On Monday Erdoğan also said there would be no elections for the next four years, during which the government will concentrate on its economic program, implement giant projects and carry out reforms in many fields.

The last time Turkey held presidential and parliamentary elections was May 2023, when Erdoğan secured yet another term as president. The next elections are scheduled for 2028.

The talk about early elections came to the nation’s agenda following the AKP’s election defeat on March 31, despite the fact that the main opposition CHP has not called for early polls.

There was speculation that Bahçeli might call for early elections if his party’s alliance with the AKP breaks up.

The 600-seat Turkish parliament can call early elections only if three-fifths of the lawmakers — 360 MPs — support it.

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