Erdogan looks to Islamic fringe to bolster electoral alliance
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking the support of smaller, fringe Islamist parties in upcoming elections, widening his conservative base and risking cultural clashes over religion and women’s rights with the secular-minded opposition.
“We had contacts with Huda Par. I hope that the work will be completed in a short time,” Ali Ihsan Yavuz, deputy chairman of the ruling AK Party, said Monday. “Talks are also underway with the Yeniden Refah Party.”
Huda Par’s website says it wants to sever ties with Israel and prevent Sweden joining NATO over the burning of the Koran. The party was founded by people linked to the pro-Kurdish militant group Hezbollah, which isn’t related to the Lebanese group of the same name.
Yeniden Refah, run by the son of the country’s first Islamist Prime Minister and Erdogan’s one-time mentor Necmettin Erbakan, says it seeks an education system that prioritises spirituality as much as scientific knowledge.
Erdogan may need their votes in the 14 May election to beat the largest-ever grouping of opposition parties, which largely embrace secular republic values and criticize rising violence against women and the LGBTQ community during the president’s 20 years in power.
Turkey pulled out of the Istanbul Convention, a European treaty to combat violence against women, in 2021, and Erdogan has proposed constitutional amendments — since shelved after February’s earthquakes — that would expand the right to wear Islamic headscarves and prohibit same-sex marriages.
The president’s outreach to the Islamist parties “is a sign that Erdogan’s true face and anti-republican feelings in his inner world have resurfaced,” Engin Altay, a lawmaker from the main opposition CHP party said.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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