MHP leader Bahçeli labels journalist 'mentally retarded' over column on possible rift with Erdoğan

Government ally and ultra-nationalist MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli on Nov. 21 labeled journalist Barış Terkoğlu “mentally retarded” after the latter reported that President Erdoğan wanted to “get rid of” Bahçeli and MHP by offering the removal of absolute majority requirement in the presidential elections.

Journalist Barış Terkoğlu (L) and MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli (R)

Duvar English

Turkish government ally and far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli on Nov. 21 called journalist Barış Terkoğlu “mentally retarded” over his column on a possible rift between Bahçeli and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Speaking at the MHP parliamentary group meeting, Bahçeli said “Some mentally retarded people ask, 'Will Erdoğan get rid of Bahçeli?' The attempts to insinuate a conflict between the AKP and MHP are despicable and vile.” 

“Thank God, throughout our political life, we have never taken advantage of anyone. We were never taken advantage of as well,” he added.

In response to Bahçeli, Terkoğlu said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that “As long as you don't have me shot by a drug dealer in the middle of Ankara or a hitman under the age of 18 in Şişli, Istanbul, let us discuss (these things) both in the newspapers and in the Parliament rostrum,” referring to former Grey Wolves head Sinan Ateş and Armenian journalist Hrant Dink murders.

In his Nov. 20-dated column titled "Will Erdoğan get rid of Bahçeli?" on the daily Cumhuriyet, Terkoğlu commented on President Erdoğan’s offer for the removal of absolute majority requirement in the presidential elections and said “Perhaps Erdoğan wants to get rid of Bahçeli.”

Terkoğlu argued that the absolute majority requirement obliges the mainstream parties to form an alliance with the smaller ones, and puts the winning president under the tutelage of small parties.

Erdoğan on Nov. 18 stated once again his belief that Turkey should switch to a simple majority benchmark for presidential elections.

The current system requires an absolute majority of votes to elect a president. If no candidate receives more than 50% of votes during the first round, the two candidates with the most votes run in the second round two weeks later.

Bahçeli on Nov. 21 refused Erdoğan’s offer during his party’s parliamentary group meeting and said a president should “represent the whole of the nation. Electing the president with 50%+1 of the votes is a form of pluralistic democracy that will set an example for the world.”

“We are not electing deputies, mayors, or mukhtars (village and neighborhood heads). We are electing the president,” he added.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the MHP, the Great Unity Party (BBP) and the New Welfare Party (YRP) entered the elections under the People's Alliance in the 2023 elections.