Faced with a growing scandal centered on the sex tapes of members of the nationalist opposition party, Turkish politicians from across the spectrum are speaking out about a controversy increasingly seen as a threat to the country’s entire political realm.
Bahçeli challenged the threats, saying neither he nor the MHP officials in question would go anywhere and that those making the demands were free to release the images.
A sex tape featuring MHP deputy leader Mehmet Ekici was released on Farkliulkuculer.com on Saturday, with an announcement that fellow deputy leader Osman Çakır would be next. Both men resigned from the party over the weekend, as did deputy leaders Deniz Bölükbaşı and Ümit Şafak; Secretary-General Mustafa Cihan Paçacı; and Chairmanship Council member Mehmet Taytak Bahçeli.
Their departures bring to 10 the total of senior party members who have now resigned from the MHP due to the release of the tapes. Recai Yıldırım, Metin Çobanoğlu, Bülent Didinmez and Mehmet Taytak all resigned from the party in the past few months due to the release of illegally obtained footage of them with women.
|Nationalist Movement Party's office in Igdir|
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan slammed the incident Sunday, while also criticizing allegations pointing to his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, as the perpetrator behind the plot.
“Those who blame our party for such tapes are in a serious delusion. It is an attempt for CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who came to power with a similar tape scandal, to conceal his inappropriate position by slandering,” Erdoğan said.
Daily Vatan columnist Ruşen Çakır wrote Sunday that none of the opposition parties have the equipment to pull off such a detailed, professional and well-facilitated plot. He also said the timing of the scandal indicates that those responsible cannot be from within the MHP.
“A plot obviously trying to keep the MHP out of Parliament is not a ‘restoration,’ but a ‘deconstruction.’ They are not only trying to ensure the MHP stays below the 10 percent election threshold, but they are also trying to purge the party,” Çakır wrote.
Ruling Islamist Party Ahead in Polls
|Turkish opposition leader Devlet Bahçeli is being |
blackmailed. Resign or sex tapes will be released.
According to some public opinion polls the ruling party has won the hearts and minds of well over 50 percent of the nation and in the upcoming June 12 elections it will tally around 51-54 percent of the vote. Some other polls place the AKP at a far modest below 50 percent, claiming that the ruling party would receive in between 45 percent and its 2007 election level of 46.7 percent. There is not one poll showing the AKP below 45 percent.
The most problematic party so far appears to be the MHP, which has been battling sex-tape scandals, losing four prominent parliamentary candidates, two of them deputy chairmen of the party, to the scandals.
Already there are claims that the party, which has been trailing around 13-15 percent level in public opinion polls, has dipped as low as 11 percent, just a percentage point above the 10 percent national threshold. Naturally, the MHP, as well as many political observers including this writer, consider the sex-tape scandals as a systematic effort by the ruling AKP or some criminal minds close to AKP leadership. There are claims that there were eight such tapes against senior MHP executives or parliamentary candidates. So far four tapes have been released. If some new tapes are released before the election, the MHP might suffer some serious problems in overcoming the 10 percent national electoral threshold.
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