Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli made several controversial statements at a party meeting in Karaman-Aksaray last week. Bahçeli accused opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu of collaborating with terrorist organizations and global imperialism. He claimed that the PKK openly supports Kılıçdaroğlu, while Fethullah Gülen’s followers have become a bulwark against him. Bahçeli also accused the global media of spreading discord through Kılıçdaroğlu’s propaganda.
Bahçeli urged Turks to stand up against what he termed as this “crusader mentality.” In his speech, he referred to a recent British The Economist article that called for President Erdogan’s resignation. Bahçeli claimed that the Turkish people will decide the nation’s fate, not foreign powers, and called on Turks to hold Kılıçdaroğlu and his supporters accountable.
Bahçeli also accused Kılıçdaroğlu of plotting to take revenge on the Republic of Turkey, whose 100th anniversary is celebrated this year. He claimed that Kılıçdaroğlu is playing into the hands of those whose aim is to weaken the country’s political and economic power.
In a final challenge, Bahçeli called on Kılıçdaroğlu to be ready to pay a heavy price on May 14. He promised to make his opponents pay for their actions “in both worlds.”
Bahçeli’s statements drew sharp criticism from opposition parties, who accused him of using divisive language and promoting hatred and violence. Observers say that the MHP leader’s provocative language is likely motivated by a desire to mobilize his base ahead of important local elections in June.