Nationalist Movement Party

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Nationalist Movement Party
Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi
President Devlet Bahçeli
General Secretary İsmet Büyükataman
Founder Alparslan Türkeş
Slogan Bizimle Yürü Türkiye (roughly, "Walk With Us, Turkey!")
Founded February 9, 1969; 46 years ago (1969-02-09)
Preceded by Republican Villagers Nation Party
Headquarters Ehlibeyt Mh. Ceyhun Atuf Kansu Cd No:128, 06105 Ankara, Turkey
Paramilitary wing Grey Wolves (unofficial)
Membership  (2014[1]) 407,138
Ideology Turkish nationalism[2]
Political position Far-right[6][7][8][9][10][11]
Colours          Red, white
79 / 550
Metropolitan municipalities:
3 / 30
District municipalities:
166 / 1,351
Provincial councillors:
174 / 1,251
Politics of Turkey
Political parties

The Nationalist Movement Party (alternatively translated as Nationalist Action Party; Turkish: Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi, MHP), is a Turkish far-right political party. The party is also informally known as the Grey Wolves, referring to its unofficial paramilitary youth wing.[12]

In the June 2015 general elections, the party polled 16.3% and won 80 seats, becoming the joint third largest political party in the parliament alongside the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).


In 1965, nationalist politician and ex-Colonel Alparslan Türkeş, who had trained in the USA for NATO and founder of the Turkish Gladio Special Warfare Department, gained control of the conservative rural Republican Villagers Nation Party (Turkish: Cumhuriyetçi Köylü Millet Partisi, CKMP). During an Extraordinary Great Congress held at Adana in Turkey on 8–9 February 1969, Türkeş changed the name of the party to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

The MHP embraced Turkish nationalism, and under the leadership of Türkeş, militias connected to the party were responsible for assassinating numerous left-wing intellectuals and academics, including some Kurds, during the 1970s. [13] The leader of the party's youth wing, known as the Grey Wolves after Turkic mythology, claimed that they had an intelligence organization that was superior to the state's own.[14]

On the other hand, MHP had links to the Aydınlar Ocağı (AO; "Hearth of Intellectuals"), a right-wing think tank launched in 1970 by established university professors, which served as a connecting link between secular-conservative, nationalist and Islamic rightists, promoting the ideology of Turkish-Islamic synthesis. AO's ideas, which have been compared to those of the French Nouvelle Droite, had a determining influence on MHP's programmes and served to lend the far-right party a more legitimate, respectable appearance.[15]

On May 27, 1980, the party's deputy leader and former government minister Gün Sazak was assassinated by members of the Marxist–Leninist terrorist group Revolutionary Left (Turkish: Devrimci Sol or Dev Sol) in front of his home.[16]

When the Turkish army seized power on September 12, 1980, in a violent coup d'état led by General Kenan Evren, the party was banned, along with all other active political parties at the time, and many of its leading members were imprisoned. Many party members joined the neoliberal Anavatan Partisi or various Islamist parties. Party member (Agâh Oktay Güner) noted that the party's ideology was in power while its members were in prison.

The party later was reformed in 1983 under the name "Conservative Party" (Turkish: Muhafazakar Parti). After 1985, however, the name was changed to the "Nationalist Task Party" (Turkish: Milliyetçi Çalışma Partisi) then back again to its former name in 1992.[17][better source needed] In 1993, Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu and five other deputies separated and founded the Great Union Party, which is a Islamist party.[17]

The MHP used to be described as a neo-fascist party[15][18] linked to extremist and violent militias.[19] Since the 1990s it has, under the leadership of Devlet Bahçeli, gradually moderated its programme, turning from ethnic to cultural nationalism and conservatism and stressing the unitary nature of the Turkish state. Notably, it has moved from strict, Kemalist-style secularism to a more pro-Islamic stance, and has – at least in public statements – accepted the rules of parliamentary democracy. Some scholars[who?] doubt the sincerity and credibility of this turn and suspect the party of still pursuing a fascist agenda behind a more moderate and pro-democratic façade. Nevertheless, MHP's mainstream overture has strongly increased its appeal to voters and it has grown to the country's third-strongest party,[20] continuously represented in the National Assembly since 2007 with voter shares well above the 10% threshold.

Devlet Bahçeli said that the attacks by MHP affiliated Turkish youth on South Korean tourists was "understandable", telling the Turkish news paper Hurriyet that: "What feature differentiates a Korean from a Chinese? They see that they both have slanted eyes. How can they tell the difference?".[21] Another translation of his remarks was : "What is the difference between a Korean and a Chinese anyway? They both have slitty eyes. Does it make any difference?"[22][23]

At present[edit]

The party is headed by Devlet Bahçeli and has 52 deputies, three of them women, in the Grand National Assembly. The party has recently been putting a distance between itself and its history of ultranationalism, at occasion asking its members to keep away from "ethnic politics".[24][third-party source needed]

Election results[edit]

General elections[edit]

Grand National Assembly of Turkey
Election date Party leader Number of votes received Percentage of votes Number of deputies
1969 Alparslan Türkeş 274,225 3.02%
1 / 450
1973 Alparslan Türkeş 362,208 3.38%
3 / 450
1977 Alparslan Türkeş 951,544 6.42%
16 / 450
1995[25] Alparslan Türkeş 2,301,343 8.18%
0 / 550
1999[26] Devlet Bahçeli 5,606,634 17.98%
129 / 550
2002[27] Devlet Bahçeli 2,629,808 8.35%
0 / 550
2007[28] Devlet Bahçeli 5,001,869 14.27%
71 / 550
2011[29] Devlet Bahçeli 5,585,513 13.01%
53 / 550
June 2015 Devlet Bahçeli 7,516,480 16.29%
80 / 550

Senate Elections[edit]

Senate of the Republic (1960–1980)
Election date Party leader Number of votes received Percentage of votes Number of senators
1973 Alparslan Türkeş 114,662 2,7%
0 / 52
1975 Alparslan Türkeş 170,357 3,2%
0 / 54
1977 Alparslan Türkeş 326,967 6,8%
0 / 50
1979 Alparslan Türkeş 312,241 6,1%
1 / 50

Local Elections[edit]

Election date Party leader Provincial council votes Percentage of votes Number of municipalities
1973 Alparslan Türkeş 133,089 1,33% 5
1977 Alparslan Türkeş 819,136 6,62% 55
1994 Alparslan Türkeş 2,239,117 7,95% 118
1999 Devlet Bahçeli 5,401,597 17,17% 499
2004 Devlet Bahçeli 3,372,249 10,45% 247
2009 Devlet Bahçeli 6,386,279 15,97% 484
2014 Devlet Bahçeli 7,399,119 17.82% 166


  1. ^ "Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi". Party files. T.C. Yargıtay Cumhuriyet Başsavcısı (Office of the Prosecutor at the Court of Cassation of the Turkish Republic). 16 December 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Farnen, Russell F., ed. (2004). Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Identity: Cross National and Comparative Perspectives. Transaction Publishers. p. 252. ISBN 9781412829366. ..the nationalist-fascist Turkish National Movement Party (MHP). 
  3. ^ "MHP to start rallies against Kurdish initiative on Dec. 13". Today's Zaman. 4 December 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  4. ^ Abadan-Unat, Nermin (2011). Turks in Europe: From Guest Worker to Transnational Citizen. New York: Berghahn Books. p. 19. ISBN 9781845454258. ...the fascist Nationalist Movement Party... 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Turkish far right on the rise". The Independent. 20 April 1999. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  7. ^ Avcı, Gamze (September 2011). "The Nationalist Movement Party's Euroscepticism: Party Ideology Meets Strategy" (PDF). South European Society and Politics (Routledge) 16 (3): 435–447. doi:10.1080/13608746.2011.598359. ISSN 1743-9612. 
  8. ^ Çınar, Alev; Burak Arıkan (2002). "The Nationalist Action Party: Representing the State, the Nation or the Nationalists?". In Barry Rubin & Metin Heper. Political Parties in Turkey. London: Routledge. p. 25. ISBN 0714652741. 
  9. ^ Huggler, Justin (20 April 1999). "Turkish far right on the rise". The Independent. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  10. ^ Arıkan, E. Burak (July 2002). "Turkish ultra–nationalists under review: a study of the Nationalist Action Party". Nations and Nationalism (Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism) 8 (3): 357–375. doi:10.1111/1469-8219.00055. 
  11. ^ Butler, Daren (21 May 2011). "Pre-election resignations rock Turkish far right". Reuters. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  12. ^ Sirin, Veli (13 May 2013). "The Real Erdogan". New York: Gatestone Institute. ...the fascist Nationalist Action Party or MHP, known as the Grey Wolves, from the title of its paramilitary branch. 
  13. ^ Desmond Fernandes and Iskender Ozden (Spring 2001). "United States and NATO inspired 'psychological warfare operations' against the 'Kurdish communist threat' in Turkey" (PDF). Variant 2 (12): 10–16. [dead link]
  14. ^ Değer, M. Emin (1978). CIA, Kontrgerilla ve Türkiye (in Turkish). Ankara: Kendi Yayını. p. 119. MHP lideri Türkeş, Ülkü Ocaklarını meşru müdafaa yaptığını söyler. Ülkü Ocakları Genel Başkanı da, 'bizim istihbarat örgütümüz devletin örgütünden güçlüdür' demektedir.  Quoted in "Susurluk'ta bütün yollar, devlete uğrayarak CIA'ya çıkar". Kurtuluş Yolu (in Turkish) 4 (39). 2008-09-19. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  15. ^ a b Arıkan, E. Burak (1999). The Programme of the Nationalist Action Party: An Iron Hand in a Velvet Glove?. Turkey Before and After Atatürk (Frank Cass). pp. 122–125. 
  16. ^ "MİT'ten 1 Mayıs ve Gün Sazak yanıtı". Hürriyet (in Turkish). 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  17. ^ a b[dead link]
  18. ^ Jacoby, Tim (2012). Fascism, Civility and the Crisis of the Turkish State. Political Civility in the Middle East (Routledge). p. 112. 
  19. ^ Sullivan, Colleen (2011). Grey Wolves. The SAGE Encyclopedia of Terrorism (Second ed.) (Sage). p. 236. 
  20. ^ Davies, Peter; Jackson, Paul (2008). The Far Right in Europe: An Encyclopedia. Greenwood. p. 358. 
  21. ^ Lefevre, Amy Sawitta; Dikmen, Yesim (Jul 9, 2015). "Thai PM defends decision to send Uighurs back to China". Reuters. 
  22. ^ AFP/ec (9 Jul 2015). "Outrage after Turkish politician excuses attack on 'slitty-eyed' tourists". Channel NewsAsia (ISTANBUL). 
  23. ^ Agence France Presse (Jul 8, 2015). "Outrage after Turkish politician excuses attack on 'slitty-eyed' tourists". The Daily Star. 
  24. ^
  25. ^[dead link]
  26. ^[dead link]
  27. ^[dead link]
  28. ^[dead link]
  29. ^ T.C. Yüksek Seçim Kurulu Başkanlığı (Supreme Election Board) (22 June 2011). "Karar No 1070 (Decision No. 1070)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 October 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Arıkan, E. Burak (1999). The Programme of the Nationalist Action Party: An Iron Hand in a Velvet Glove?. Turkey Before and After Atatürk (Frank Cass). pp. 120–134. 
  • Arıkan, Ekin Burak (2012). Turkish extreme right in office: whither democracy and democratization?. Mapping the Extreme Right in Contemporary Europe: From Local to Transnational (Routledge). pp. 225–238. 
  • Başkan, Filiz (January 2006). "Globalization and Nationalism: The Nationalist Action Party of Turkey". Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 12 (1): 83–105. doi:10.1080/13537110500503877. 

External links[edit]