Turkey’s main opposition chair meets with government’s far-right ally after seven years

Turkey’s main opposition CHP leader Özgür Özel met with the government’s far-right ally MHP’s chair Devlet Bahçeli after seven years in a closed meeting in the parliament.

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Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chair Özgür Özel on May 7 visited the government’s far-right ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli at his office in the Parliament, marking the first such meeting between leaders of the parties after seven years.

After Özel became the main opposition's chair in November 2023, he discarded previous leadership under Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu positions against direct communication with the government. On May 2, Özel also met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, after an eight-year gap between CHP’s leadership and Erdoğan.

The Bahçeli-Özel meeting lasted 45 minutes and the far-right nationalist leader requested that the meeting be held in private without the press.

The main agenda item for the meeting was expected to be the ongoing negotiations on the new constitution. 

After the meeting, when asked about the outcome, Bahçeli replied, "The chair will make the statement," referring to Özel.

What happened?

Analysts viewed the local elections as having dented Erdoğan's hopes of pushing through a new constitution, which could potentially extend his rule beyond 2028 when his term ends.

Parliament Speaker Numan Kurtulmuş of the AKP is leading talks on an issue that looks likely to dominate domestic politics this year. While the AKP, MHP and its other minor allies have a parliamentary majority, Erdoğan would need broader support for a successful referendum on a new constitution.

After 13 years with Kılıçdaroğlu at the CHP helm, Özel became party leader last November amid a push for change in the secularist party, which had been dogged by in-fighting.