Ultra-nationalist political parties of the far right have been an endemic feature of European politics in recent years. This article investigates the rise of the Nationalist Action Party (the MHP) in Turkey, a party that has a number of characteristics in common with its European counterparts. The objective of the article is to illustrate a paradox. These types of parties tend to display a considerable degree of adaptability and exhibit a tendency to move in a more moderate direction. They shed some of their violent and extremist leanings in the process as they try to transform themselves from closed communities or networks to mass parties of national standing. This apparent moderation should not disguise, however, the key underlying weakness of such parties, namely their limited commitment to the core values of liberal democracy and political pluralism. Indeed, such parties can continue to play an important negative role in terms of their ability to block the process of democratic deepening in nascent democratic regimes.