MHP sex tape scandal still hot issue for Turkey’s politicians

MHP sex tape scandal still hot issue for Turkey’s politicians

Mehmet Ekici

May 23, 2011, Monday/ 16:45:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

The release of sex tapes involving some members of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which resulted in the resignations of 10 top executives of the party, continues to dominate Turkish politics, with more politicians commenting on the tapes and condemning the figures and motives behind their release.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is also the leader of the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party), said gangs are behind an “operation to re-shape the MHP administration.” However, he did not explain what he was referring to with gangs. “They are trying to re-shape the MHP with an ugly [sex] tape plot. This is ugly and dangerous [for Turkish politics.] I am calling on the MHP to end its cooperation with the Republican People's Party [CHP] to help members of gangs,” the prime minister said on Sunday in Bursa. He was directing criticism at the CHP and the MHP for earlier decisions to nominate some suspects in ongoing coup trials as deputy candidates in the June 12 parliamentary elections.


Erdoğan in addition asked the MHP administration and grassroots to lend their support to the AK Party in its fight against clandestine groups and gangs. “Security forces, intelligence groups and the judiciary will work to shed light on the dirty [sex tape] plot, for sure, but I expect the MHP leader, the party administration and its supporters to lend support to our fight against gangs before it is too late. It [support] is a national duty. It is also a democratic and historic duty. It is clear that the CHP will not fulfill such responsibility, but the MHP should lend support to Turkey's fight for democratization,” he stated.


The MHP has recently been trying to cope with the release of sex videos involving its politicians. On Saturday, MHP deputy chairmen Mehmet Ekici, Osman Çakır, Ümit Şafak and Ahmet Deniz Bölükbaşı, MHP Secretary-General Cihan Paçacı and MHP Presidency Council member Mehmet Taytak resigned from their positions and withdrew their candidacy for the post of deputy in the June elections. Earlier this month, four other MHP politicians -- Recai Yıldırım, Metin Çobanoğlu, Bülent Didinmez and İhsan Barutçu -- resigned from their posts after the release of video clips that showed them having sex with women.


According to AK Party parliamentary group deputy chairman Mustafa Elitaş, the release of MHP sex tapes is part of a dark plot by “deep forces” that want MHP supporters to vote for the CHP in the upcoming elections. A stronger CHP will make it harder for the AK Party to form a single-party government for a third time, according to Elitaş. He also said the deep forces are trying to make the AK Party a center of criticism over the sex tape scandal to “ease the CHP's hand” in the elections. “The scandal seems to be aimed at eliminating [Devlet] Bahçeli from the leadership of the MHP. They [forces behind the sex tape scandal] are trying to get rid of Bahçeli and foment sensitivity in the MHP grassroots. They believe that they will manage to direct some MHP voters to vote for the CHP by putting the blame [for the release of sex tapes] on the AK Party,” Elitaş said.


Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Şahin also commented on the sex tape scandal that has shaken the MHP on the eve of the parliamentary elections, and said he was saddened to see that one of Turkey's political parties was faced with such scandal before the elections. The parliament speaker called on “related bodies” to find out who released the sex tapes and for what purpose. “If MHP authorities lend their support to judicial bodies, then it will be easier to find out who is behind the scandal. It is a very ugly thing we are faced with.”


In addition, Erdoğan's head consultant Yalçın Akdoğan said the release of the sex tapes is part of a dirty plot to redesign politics in the MHP. "The main objective is to strengthen the opposition against the AK Party," he said. According to Akdoğan, forces behind the tapes did not release them to make the MHP lose votes in the June elections. "This is direct intervention in [Turkish] politics. Some have directly intervened in a political party that refused an internal change. They are trying to change the MHP [administration] and make it an alternative to the AK Party."


Seven MHP politicians still deputy candidates


Seven of the 10 MHP politicians, who announced their resignations from their posts and said they withdrew their candidacy for the post of deputy in the June elections, have not informed the Supreme Election Board (YSK) about their decisions yet.


If they decline to send petitions to the YSK by June 12 to indicate that they have withdrawn from the deputyship race, then they will enter Parliament as deputies if they happen to be elected in the June polls. So far Yıldırım, Çobanoğlu and Didinmez have informed the election body that they have withdrawn their candidacy for deputy. The remaining seven MHP politicians, Bölükbaşı, Çakır, Şafak, Paçacı, Taytak, Barutçu and Ekici have not sent petitions to the YSK about their decisions to withdraw from the June elections.

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