Continuity and change in the ideology of the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), 1965-2015: from Alparslan Türkeş to Devlet Bahçeli
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This Ph.D. dissertation offers an in-depth, systematic study of the continuities and discontinuities from 1965 to 2015 between the nationalist ideas and practices of Alparslan Türkeş (the founder and first leader of Turkey’s Nationalist Action Party [Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi, MHP]) and Devlet Bahçeli (the second and current leader). To this end, this study focuses on (i) general theories of nationalism; (ii) the historical development of Turkish nationalism from the late Ottoman Empire until 2015; and (iii) whether there are discernable differences between the nationalist ideas and practices of Türkeş and Bahçeli, and, if so, how and why such differences emerged. There appears to be no far-reaching comparative analysis of the nationalist ideas and practices of these two leaders in the academic literature, so this dissertation, using a comparative and historical methodology, provides the first systematic analysis of this topic within the relevant structural context. The dissertation argues that while the two leaders’ nationalist ideas and practices show continuity in terms of the party’s foundational claims, their ideologies have evolved as each leader has varied his emphasis on the ethnic, cultural, and civic components of Turkish nationalism. These changes parallel the party’s tactical needs in response to the perceived threats arising from specific historical contexts. The findings of this Ph.D. dissertation contribute evidence that theories and arguments based on types of nationalism have little empirical traction, at least in the Turkish case.
The Nationalist Action Party