Turkish nationalist leader ends alliance with Erdogan party
The leader of Turkey's main nationalist faction on Tuesday announced he was pulling out of an electoral alliance with the ruling party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a dispute over a proposed amnesty law.
The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) of Devlet Bahceli teamed up with the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Erdogan for an alliance in June's simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections, a move widely seen as aiding the president's victory.
But speaking to MHP members and lawmakers in parliament, Bahceli announced there would be no such alliance for the 31 March local elections which will determine city mayors across the country, notably in Ankara and Istanbul.
The rupture comes after the MHP pushed the AKP to agree to a mass amnesty - mostly for common criminals but also some mobsters - an idea received with little enthusiasm in the ruling party.
"No alliance can survive if one party is rejected and forced to step back," Bahceli said. "There is no meaning in extending this process, which has become chronic."
"We no longer have any expectation or intention for an alliance in the local elections," he added.
While the two parties teamed up for the formal alliance in the elections, the MHP has no ministers in the cabinet and is not part of a formal alliance in parliament with the AKP, which is just short of an overall majority.
Nevertheless Bahceli's move could upset the strategy of the ruling party to hoover up nationalist votes in order to prevent them going to the other nationalist party - the Good Party - of former cabinet minister Meral Aksener who openly opposes Erdogan.