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Turkey's Opposition: Ruling Party Trying to Change Fundamental Philosophy

Supporters, known as " Gray Wolves" listen to Devlet Bahceli, the leader of Turkey's opposition Nationalist Action Party in Ankara, June 4, 2011
Supporters, known as " Gray Wolves" listen to Devlet Bahceli, the leader of Turkey's opposition Nationalist Action Party in Ankara, June 4, 2011

Turkish voters are going to the polls June 12 for the parliamentary elections. The Nationalist Action Party (NAP) - a deeply rooted conservative nationalist political party - declared in its 2011 election manifesto: “[Our] political mission is to create a new civilization and a new world where Turkey is at its center." In their manifesto they listed the goals to be achieved by 2023 - the centennial of the Turkish republic: Attaining the standards of higher democracy; securing judicial independence and the rule of law; bringing rights and freedoms to world standards; promoting political morality; ending corruption and degeneration; attaining peace and security at home; becoming an honored and respected country abroad; solving the problem of uneven distribution of wealth; ending unemployment and poverty.

NAP Deputy Chairman and Parlaimentarian from Antalya Tunca Toskay says that with the current elections the incumbent is trying to change the fundamental philosophy of the Turkish republic.

“The voter is fully aware of the game being played here. The Turkish people and the citizens are aware of the fact that Turkey’s founding philosophy will be shelved and that Turkey faces a serious threat of disintegration after the election,” he said.

'Serious problems'

In an exclusive interview with the VOA Turkish Service, Toskay, said Turkey faces two serious problems.

"There are two serious problems: a foreign sponsored problem with terrorism that is trying to divide Turkey. And a series of economic problems, namely unemployment, a trade and current accounts deficit,” he said.

Toskay says that the NAP favors a production oriented economic model. “We will implement a production oriented competitive economic model. We don’t think that our addiction - much like a drug addict - to hot money is sustainable,” he said.

National threshold

Turkey has a 10 percent national threshold - any political party that hopes to find seats in Parliament must at least secure 10 percent of the national vote. Political parties that garner less than 10 percent of the national vote in a general election do not win seats in Parliament. This threshold is one of the highest in democratic countries.

At the moment the NAP is polling very close to the 10 percent threshold. The vote the nationalists get June 12 could be critical in determining the distribution of seats in Parliament and this will be very consequential in terms of legislation - including drafting of the new constitution. The ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP) has promised a new constitution in the new term - and the makeup of Parliament will determine very much how it is drafted.

Last month, following the release of several seedy sex tapes involving prominent members of the NAP, 10 party members, some of whom were in leadership positions, were forced to resign. The NAP Chairman Devlet Bahceli accused the governing JDP of political manipulation; Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected allegations of involvement.

Toskay said that they were not especially concerned that the scandal would disenfranchise the political base - a largely conservative group of Turkish nationalists.

“No, we are not concerned. We have an idea of where this is coming from. But I would not speculate. We have analyzed the situation. This organization is a very well experienced political machine. We will overcome. Turkish nationalists will not succumb to such operations,” he said.

The Nationalist Action Party is still polling around 10 percent - though most analysts doubt that they will fail to surpass the threashold.