Islamist New Welfare Party joins Erdogan's bloc
The Islamist New Welfare Party (YRP) joined Turkey's ruling alliance on Friday by a last minute deal, days after the party's leader Fatih Erbakan announced that he will run independently in the coming presidential election on 14 May.
Recent polls suggest that YRP is likely to receive around 1% of the popular vote, but even such a small margin may be decisive in a tight race between the People's Alliance's candidate Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the opposition Nation Alliance's candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
One of the conditions set by YRP for joining the alliance was the abolition of the Law 6284 - on the protection of the family and prevention of violence against women. While it is currently unknown whether that demand has been accepted by the parties of the People's Alliance, Fatih Erbakan stressed a day earlier that they could join the alliance only if their conditions are accepted.
Fatih Erbakan is the son of Necmettin Erbakan, who pioneered in the 1960s and led for decades a growing Islamist political movement in Turkey, also referred to as the "National Vision." Erdogan and other co-founders of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) were former members of Erbakan's Welfare Party till they left it to found AKP in 2001.
It also became clear on Friday that the parliamentary candidates of the Islamist Huda Par (Free Cause Party) will run as AKP candidates on 14 May. The party earlier announced its support for Erdogan in the presidential race.
Huda Par has its roots in the Kurdish Islamist Hezbollah group (not related to the Lebanese Shia organization Hezbollah), who clashed - in alliance with state forces - with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) during the 1990s and who is held responsible for the deaths of over 500 people, including many Kurdish political activists, human rights defenders and journalists.