Turkey elections: Erdogan ‘rejects alliance’ with Eurasianist party

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has refused to accept the Eurasian Patriotic Party (Vatan) as his electoral alliance for the May 14 polls, according to Dogu Perincek, the party’s chairman.

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 told me personally that he does not want to run with the Vatican Party in the elections,” he said. “We must announce it loudly: there is no doubt that the decision of the People’s Alliance to reject the Vatican Party is a choice.

“They chose the way of submission to the United States regarding the independence and security of Turkey.”

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

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

Perincek was particularly angry at the fact that Erdogan decided to add the pro-Kurdish Islamic Freedom Party (Huda-Par) to his alliance despite them being “separatists”.

The opposition rallied against Huda Par because of his links to the armed group Hizbullah, a Kurdish organization based in Turkey that targeted conservative feminist intellectuals and state officials in the 1990s in a series of brutal murders. The movement later ended in violence.

“They have tried to legitimize their cooperation with Huda Par, whose program includes a promise to remove the concept of the Turkish nation from the constitution and aims to make Kurdish the official language,” Perincek said.

Impact overestimated

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

The extent of his influence within actual policy-making circles is debatable, but Erdogan’s successful ties to Moscow and Beijing in recent years have earned Perincek increased media attention.

He traveled to those countries, claiming to have played 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 that Perincek is deeply disliked by Erdogan because of his attitude that gives too much importance to himself and his party in relations with Moscow and Beijing.

“It is as if he himself is facing the differences after Turkey leans towards the Eurasian axis,” Koru told Middle East Eye. “He has no votes, and he brings nothing to the table. It doesn’t mean anything.”

Perincek has struggled to collect 100,000 signatures needed to run for the presidential race scheduled for May 14. He couldn’t get past 25,000.

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

One of Erdogan’s close friends, businessman Ethem Sancak, is now vice-chairman of the Patriotic Party, after being forced to leave the AKP over a statement suggesting that Erdogan and his party were brought to power thanks to Washington.

Sancak also criticized Turkey for supplying Ukraine with drones and weapons against Russia last year.

Koru believes that Erdogan does not want any trouble during the election period, and he certainly would not want to attract the attention of the West to a marginal party as an alliance partner that does not give him anything.

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