|Six senior politicians in Bahceli’s hardline nationalist party have resigned amid a sex scandal before elections [AFP]
Devlet Bahceli, 63, leads the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), a nationalist group, and Turkey’s second-largest opposition party.
|Turkish Elections: Party list
Fifteen parties will field candidates in Sunday’s elections, according to Turkish electoral authorities. Independent candidates, notably those representing the pro-Kurdish Peace and Development Party (BDP) will also stand in many areas.
He was born in 1948 in Osmaniye and attended primary school there. He moved to Istanbul for his secondary education. Bahceli received his higher education from the scientific academy in Ankara and his doctorate from the Gazi University in Ankara.
In 1987, Bahceli became a member of the board of the Nationalist Task Party (MCP), which later became known as the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
Following the death of its leader, Alparslan Turkes, in 1997, he became the chairman. Bahceli then served as deputy prime minister from 1999 to 2002.
The nationalist party’s hardline platform is based on security and a rigid interpretation of Turkish nationalism.
The party has, however, been dealt a major blow ahead of next month’s elections.
Six senior politicians, including four vice-presidents, were forced to resign from party positions following threats to publish compromising videos.
Four other senior MHP leaders also resigned earlier this month after secretly filmed images that appeared to show them having extramarital sex were posted online.
An obscure group calling itself “Different Nationalists” has demanded that the entire MHP leadership step down, and earlier this month published the sex videos on the internet.
However, no one knows who is behind the website, which has now been blocked by the authorities while an investigation takes place.
The scandal has thrown the MHP into disarray and increased tensions ahead of the June poll, in which Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is seeking a third term.
The MHP hopes to win at least 10 per cent of the pubic vote – the threshold in Turkey for political parties to hold seats in parliament – or it will fail to have any seats at all. As a result, the AKP stands to gain if the scandal damages the MHP’s electoral prospects.
Bahceli has blamed the scandal-mongering on those who are in favour of constitutional reform.