Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet Bahceli says his party will not put forward city mayoral candidates for Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir in competition with President Erdogan's AK Party in the March 2019 municipal elections.
Turkey's nationalist MHP will support President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AK Party) candidates in local elections in three key cities next year, the MHP leader said on Saturday, in a boost to the AK Party's election prospects.
The AK Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) formed an alliance before presidential elections last June, but were subsequently at loggerheads over a disagreement about the MHP's call for an amnesty for some jailed criminals.
A month ago MHP leader Devlet Bahceli said his party would not seek an alliance with the AK Party in the March 2019 municipal elections which are being held across Turkey.
However, Bahceli announced a change of position on Saturday saying the MHP would not put forward city mayoral candidates for Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, Turkey's three biggest cities.
"Whoever the Justice and Development Party's candidates are in these three big cities our support will be total," Bahceli told officials from his party in a speech in Antalya.
The MHP's candidates in other municipalities across Turkey would continue to stand, he said, adding there was no "secret agreement" behind his party's decision.
Bahceli and his MHP party had been staunch critics of Erdogan's AK Party before they reached agreement on their election alliance this year. Their alliance had been expected to continue despite last month's decision not to cooperate in the local elections.
The local elections themselves will have little impact on the balance of power in Turkey generally.
In the June elections which ushered in Turkey’s new executive presidential system, AK Party and MHP formed a political bloc known as the People’s Alliance.
Although AK Party alone fell short of a majority in parliament, together with the MHP, the People’s Alliance bloc won enough seats to push through legislation.
The local elections in Turkey is scheduled to be held on March 31, 2019.