Date: December 22, 2014
Time: 8:15 AM
The Sociological Transformation of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in Turkey
The Milliyetci Hareket Partisi (MHP), translated as Nationalist Movement Party has played a significant role in Turkish politics especially from the period 1969 to today, and in that time it has been able to achieve some measure of popularity, longevity and relevance. The objective of this article is to examine the historical and political trajectory of the MHP, and the party’s transformation from an intellectual and academic movement to a hybrid populist-based political party. The hypothesis of this article is that once the MHP became engaged in the electoral process, like many other social and political movements, the group was forced to relinquish much of its original ideology and move to the center-right. The MHP today is not a radical or right wing party, but is instead populist and market-oriented. The second objective of this article is to address the mistake made by Turkish political analysts and scholars of the MHP, in failing to distinguish between state-imposed forms of nationalism and civic nationalism. Civic nationalism in Turkey as represented by groups such as the MHP is a result of, and direct reaction to state-imposed nationalism. This distinction is critical to understanding the movement. The final objective of the article is to explore some possibilities regarding the future trajectory of the movement, given its current political opportunity structure within Turkish politics.