There are intriguing parallels between resignations from a tiny nationalist party and Turkey’s main opposition
Another day, another party resignation. This time the ultra-nationalist Grand Union Party (BBP) has lost its deputy leader, Hasan Hüseyin Bozok, and – apparently – another 76 members.
Mr Bozok said he was leaving because the BBP had lost touch with its founding principles. In comments carried by Anadolu Agency he said the party ignores its core voter base and does not consult anyone before making decisions.
Sound familiar? Mr Bozok’s comments echo Emine Ülker Tarhan’s reasons for leaving the main opposition CHP last week.
Of course, the parallels with her case end are not perfect, not least because Mr Bozok went on to say the BBP had adopted an “operational crypto structure that trumpets the cemaat“, referring to the movement of Fethullah Gülen. No-one can quite accuse the CHP of that.
The BBP won just 1% in the last local elections and lost its only main council, Sivas
PERSONALITY POLITICS WERE SO YESTERDAY
The BBP’s alleged links with Gülen’s so-called “parallel” movement got much of Turkey’s pro-government press into a tizzy. Daily Sabah trumpeted the story on its website late on Monday. The party won less than 1 percent of the vote at the last local elections in March; it lost control of its only provincial council, Sivas, and won just five small district. Its further shrinkage will not shatter Turkish politics.
But yesterday’s resignations do go to show one thing: we are living through an era of consolidation in Turkish politics. In the 1990s, all political parties in Turkey were founded not around ideologies but personalities – see Süleyman Demirel’s True Path Party (DYP), Bülent Ecevit’s Democratic Left (DSP) or, yes, the BBP under the late Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu. As opposition parties are concerned, that era is now over.
Small parties like the BBP have little appeal and few resources to work with when there is a behemoth in government. The natural political home for a Turkish nationalist today is in the more mainstream MHP.
ULTRA NATIONALISTS WHERE THEY BELONG
Mr Bozok’s resignation was denounced by party leader Mustafa Destici, who claimed the number of members who resigned was just four, not 77. But the head of the BBP appeared to be relishing his moment in the media spotlight, using most of his time to attack the Kurdish peace process and the government.
In comments directed at the pro-Kurdish HDP and prominent MP Sırrı Süreyya Önder, Mr Destici says: “If the patience of the great Turkish nation runs out, it will give you such an answer and deliver such a punch that there would be no Sırrı, no Süreyya, nor Önder left behind.”
Thuggish treats of violence is precisely what the BBP is about. Let them stay at 1 percent.