''It’s our teacher Erbakan’s son'': does Erdoğan have an heir in Turkey?

Millî Görüş movement and the new Welfare Party created by the ex-prime minister and caliph’s ancestor

Turkey has been recently petrified by the news: the Welfare Party has been created in the country. Moreover, Fatih Erbakan – former Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan's son – is the initiator. And Abdülhamid Kayıhan Osmanoğlu, Sultan Abdul Hamid II's descendant, became his fellow. The fact that a namesake party existed in Turkey 20 years ago, which then was forbidden, spices the things up. Some hope in the future the new political force will be able to compete with the ruling Justice and Development Party and Erbakan Jr will substitute President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. However, Director General of the International Institute of the Development of Science Cooperation (Moscow) Arif Asalıoğlu finds several obstacles on this path. In a column of Realnoe Vremya, the Turkish political expert tells what a new old political force it is and remembers milestones of National Vision movement, which founded several parties.

Ancestors of the conservative religious force

The Millî Görüş (National Vision) chaired by Necmettin Erbakan in 1969 was founded as Movement of the Independent Conservative and religious classes of Turkey's society became its followers. Later it became an organised political force the National Order Party.

Millî Görüş backed the ideas that Turkey would be able to develop on the basis of its own national values and economic potential. With the force provided by history, it would be able to make steps faster. The party was represented in the parliament four times in 1974-1978. Having united with another party, it was there for the fifth time (1996-1997) with a big number of deputies. During its rule, they tried to make a breakthrough in the heavy industry.

The Millî Görüş movement aimed to create a new fair world by creating the Organisation of Islamic Economic Cooperation and the Islamic Military Alliance having united all Muslim countries of the world around itself. The closed National Order Party (1971) continues its oppositionist activity through the Happiness Party created after the National Salvation Party, Welfare Party and Virtue Party.

The innovative wing in the person of Bülent Arınç, Abdullah Gül and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who announced they were leaving this group united again under the aegis of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). The Happiness Party is considered today the only successor of Millî Görüş's business.

The Millî Görüş (National Vision) chaired by Necmettin Erbakan in 1969 was founded as Movement of the Independent. Photo: erbakanvakfi.org.tr

''We're keen to gladden the Islamic world and all humankind with the good news''

However, on the Republic Day and his father's birthday on 29 October founder and unforgettable leader of the Millî Görüş Necmettin Erbakan's son Fatih Erbakan announced the creation of a new political party having published a joint message.

Noting that the party was created on 23 November, Fatih Erbakan shared on Twitter the next message: ''So we're starting. Understanding that 'spring doesn't begin with the first flower but every spring begins with a flower', on the birthday of the late Professor Necmettin Erbakan, 'the flower spring began with', whose activity started in 1969 for the salvation of all humankind and at the same time on the first day of new resurrection of our nation, on 29 October, we're keen to gladden the Islamic world and all humankind with the good news. We've headed off so that the Millî Görüş movement will have a new spring, for the salvation and peace of our people and seven billion other people. Alhamdulillah… On 23 November, on Friday, we will be creating our party to rightly represent the vision of the Millî Görüş movement, which is a natural continuation of history, faith and spirit of our people to create a New Great Turkey and the New World. We congratulate all humankind with the great undertaking, our blessed procession that will inspire hope to all the oppressed and depressed, for the sake of peace that's ruled not by rude power but where law's dominance reigns.''

The name of the created party was announced – the Welfare Party, it's once the strongest political party of the Millî Görüş movement. By the way, the Welfare Party closed by the Constitutional Court of Turkey in January 1998.

A reaction inside the country followed these statements. Chairman of the Happiness Party Temel Karamollaoğlu claimed regarding the creation of ''the Welfare Party again'': ''Our agenda doesn't have disagreement about the creation of the new party. May God bless. It's our teacher Erbakan's son, we love him too. However, such an initiative would be doomed to failure if teacher Erbakan were alive. They made a decision and they will cover this path. There are examples in democratic countries.''

Chairman of the Happiness Party Temel Karamollaoğlu claimed regarding the creation of 'the Welfare Party again'. Photo: Yıldız Yazıcıoğlu / commons.wikimedia.org

Several 'buts':

Representative of Sözcü newspaper (Ankara) Saygı Öztürk noted that the Welfare Party recreated by former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan's son Fatih Erbakan could close in the end. ''Nobody is hostile towards the late Necmettin Erbakan or his family. However, it's up to jurists to require to comply with the constitution and laws, put effort in this area. As a result, a jurist filed a complaint to close the party in the Republican Prosecutor's Office under the Supreme Court.'' Having reminded that ''the Constitution and Law on Political Parties say that the parties closed by the Constitutional Court can't be created with other names'', Öztürk went on: ''The Constitution and Law on Political Parties say it's forbidden to use the same or similar confusing name, emblem, implication, symbol and other similar signs of parties closed by the Constitutional Court. Created political parties can't claim they are a continuation of political parties closed by the Constitutional Court and can't make such statements. The Welfare Party closed by the Constitutional Court in 1998 because it didn't comply with the principle of the secular republic. The complaints about violation of rights because of the decision to close were rejected by the 3 rd department of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2001. The objections to the decision were also denied in 2003 by the Main Department of the ECHR. The fact that the decision to close the Welfare Party among other complaints about closed political parties in Turkey sent to the ECHR is the only decision to close political parties in Turkeys approved by the ECHR also draws the attention.''

Such a perception of the Welfare Party is reflected in the public consciousness. It's clear such a name of Fatih Erbakan's party is used to attract different classes of the population – supporters of the Millî Görüş movement that has certain potential in Turkey. However, there are other moments that are able to make the Welfare Party and Fatih Erbakan uneasy. How many votes can the Millî Görüş movement get in Turkey? Moreover, already there is a party representing Millî Görüş.

Another moment is that the new party created by Meral Akşener (the Good Party) resorts to the same type of voters. The main obstacle is that the AKP headed by Tayyip Erdoğan is on the political arena at the moment, another political organisation is unlikely to find a place in the political sun. If the Welfare Party can get some support and start developing, it will have to become Erdoğan's supporter like, for instance, MHP and its Chairman Devlet Bahçeli. Another obstacle is that Fatih Erbakan, who was born in 1979, is a new person in politics. All his career in big politics comes to the fact he was a member of the Main Management Board in the Happiness Party and the party chairman's chief adviser.

The main obstacle is that the AKP headed by Tayyip Erdoğan is on the political arena at the moment, another political organisation is unlikely to find a place in the political sun. Photo: tccb.gov.tr

In the end, there are tough barriers the Welfare Party will have to cope with. However, if the party leader can have a strong team, which is able to take advantage of an opportunity, he has every chance to set sail towards the future…

By Arif Asalıoğlu

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