Turkey elections: Erdogan ‘rejects alliance’ with Eurasianist party

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has refused to take the Eurasianist Patriotic Party (Vatan) into his electoral alliance for the 14 May polls, according to Dogu Perincek, the chairman of the party.

Perincek said in a press conference on Wednesday that he held two separate meetings with Erdogan to discuss the possibility of joining the People’s Alliance, led by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). 

“He personally told me that he doesn’t want to run with the Vatan Party in the elections,” he said. “We have to declare it out loud: the People’s Alliance’s decision to reject the Vatan Party is no doubt a choice.

“They have chosen the path of submission to the United States over Turkey’s independence and security.” 

Perincek represents a fringe element of political ideology in Turkey that is an unusual combination of Turkish ultra-nationalism, Maoist leftism and ultra-secularism along with close ties to Russia, China and Syria. 

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The Turkish public has always been aware of the existence of Eurasianists – nationalists who see Turkey’s aims and geography linked to Russia and China – within the senior ranks of the armed forces and state bureaucracy. 

Perincek was specifically angry at the fact that Erdogan decided to add the Islamist pro-Kurdish Free Cause Party (Huda-Par) to his alliance despite the fact that they are “separatists”. 

The opposition rallies against Huda Par due to its association with the armed group Hizbullah, a Turkey-based Kurdish organisation that targeted feminist conservative intellectuals and state officers in the 1990s in a series of brutal assassinations. The movement later disavowed violence. 

“They have made an effort to justify their cooperation with Huda Par, which has included in its programme a pledge to remove the concept of the Turkish nation from the constitution and aims to make Kurdish the official language,” Perincek said. 

Overestimated influence

Erdogan’s decision to employ a more independent foreign policy following the 2016 coup attempt empowered Perincek, who is believed to have followers within the state.

The degree of his influence within actual policy-making circles is a subject of debate, but Erdogan’s flourishing ties with Moscow and Beijing in recent years earned Perincek outsized media attention. 

He travelled to those countries, claiming to play a mediating role, even in the recent reconciliation between Ankara and Damascus.

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Selim Koru, an analyst at the Ankara-based Tepav think tank, believes Erdogan doesn’t really like Perincek due to his attitude that gives too much importance to him and his party in relations with Moscow and Beijing.

“It is as if he alone is going to bridge the differences after Turkey leans towards the Eurasian axis,” Koru told Middle East Eye. “He doesn’t have votes, and he doesn’t bring anything to the table. He doesn’t mean anything.” 

Perincek struggled to collect 100,000 signatures that are required to run for the presidential race scheduled for 14 May. He couldn’t pass 25,000. 

In the 2018 presidential elections, he was able to collect 110,000 signatures. But he only received 98,000 votes. 

One of Erdogan’s close friends, businessman Ethem Sancak, is now a deputy chairman of the Patriotic Party, after having been forced to leave the AKP due to a statement which suggested Erdogan and his party were brought to power thanks to Washington.

Sancak also criticised Turkey for providing drones and weaponry to Ukraine against Russia last year. 

Koru believes Erdogan doesn’t want any trouble during the election period, and certainly wouldn’t want to draw Western attention to a fringe party as an alliance partner that doesn’t offer anything to him. 

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