In the last week of May 2013, a series of mass demonstrations began in Taksim Square, Istanbul, and quickly spread all over Turkey. The demonstrations were initiated by a group declaring their opposition to the removal of some trees as part of an urban modernization project in the city centre. A severe security intervention triggered massive reactions from residents of Istanbul and, later, other Turkish cities: shortly after this intervention, an estimated 2.5 million people joined the demonstrations nationwide. Sustained in its most active form for nearly a month, the demonstrations left behind several deaths, many injuries, and inestimable property damage. Known as the “Gezi events,” they had a tsunami effect on Turkish politics, reshaping the political networks, redesigning ideological positions, and disorganizing the political agenda. This article focuses on the politics of Gezi protests in relation to the Nationalist Action Party (Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi, MHP), one of three opposition parties in the Turkish Grand National Assembly. Founded more than 50 years ago, the MHP is known for its far-right nationalist views. Unlike the main opposition party, the Republican People's Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, CHP), the MHP did not exploit the Gezi protests against the ruling Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP). The authors analyze the MHP's discourses and actions regarding the Gezi protests and conclude that, more than ever, the Kurdish question is the key battleground for the MHP, and that since the 1990s the MHP has successfully transformed nationalist reactions to the Kurdish question into political fuel.

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