Kılıçdaroğlu announcement splits Turkish opposition party
ANKARA — Daily News Parliament Bureau | 5/17/2010 12:00:00 AM |
After enduring days of turmoil, Turkey’s main opposition was further split Monday by a decision from its group deputy chairman to run for the party’s leadership at an upcoming convention. (UPDATED)
After enduring days of turmoil, Turkey’s main opposition was further split Monday by a decision from its group deputy chairman to run for the party’s leadership at an upcoming convention.
Resigning Monday from his post, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu of the Republican People’s Party, or CHP, said: “It is unthinkable for our party, which has a 90-year history, to be left without a candidate. We have to overturn the conspiracies against our party.”
Noting that he wanted to establish a more democratic and coherent structure and give confidence to the party’s organization, Kılıçdaroğlu said: “We have to give hope to people suffering unemployment and despair. We must work to come to power with the votes of citizens. We have a responsibility in this matter.”
The move drew the ire of the party’s Central Executive Board, or MYK, which demanded that former CHP leader Deniz Baykal return to his post instead.
Baykal, however, had highlighted the need for change and compromise within the party when he hosted Kılıçdaroğlu at a private meeting Friday.
Baykal said he would support any candidate that fits the party’s culture, philosophy and history who is unanimously selected and backed by the party.
When asked if he would meet with Baykal again, Kılıçdaroğlu said: “Baykal and I will meet all the time. He is an important leader of our party. Therefore, being angry or offended isn’t a matter of discussion. We will always benefit from his knowledge and experience."
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did not comment Monday on the candidacy, saying Kılıçdaroğlu was not their rival and that they would make a comment if he becomes party leader.
Kılıçdaroğlu, 61, is able to run for the leadership since Baykal resigned on May 10, following the Internet broadcasting of a sex video allegedly showing the former CHP leader with his then-secretary, who is now a parliamentary deputy.
Some 60 of 97 total CHP deputies also lent their support to Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy at a joint press conference at Parliament following the announcement.
According to sources close to the party, Kılıçdaroğlu announced his candidacy after securing support from the party grassroots, including CHP General-Secretary Önder Sav, an important figure in the party.
Three reasons are being cited for Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy: the support Kılıçdaroğlu received from Sav, Kılıçdaroğlu’s negative stance against the "temporary candidate" formula planned by Baykal and the concern over the tape scandal possibly hurting the party in the future.
Sav, who opposed Baykal’s return following the tape scandal, met with Kılıçdaroğlu over the weekend and agreed on a plan to give the party an alternative leadership candidate ahead of the party’s provincial chairpersons’ meeting Tuesday.
Speaking at Parliament later in the day, Kılıçdaroğlu said he believed a compromise was achieved and Baykal’s proposal was fulfilled. Sav and Kemal Anadol, another important figure within the party, likewise announced their personal support for Kılıçdaroğlu on Tuesday.
[HH] MYK calls for Baykal’s return
According to sources, the MYK meeting witnessed fierce tension as a group of board members, led by Savcı Sayan and Yılmaz Ateş, reacted to Sav’s message of support for Kılıçdaroğlu during the meeting.
MYK members who backed Baykal criticized Sav for allegedly being a tool in the conspiracy against the party, causing Sav to leave the meeting while it was still in progress.
Some 16 of 17 board members, meanwhile, signed a joint statement calling for Baykal’s return. The MYK officially has 18 members but was reduced to 17 members following Baykal’s resignation.
Speaking after the meeting, MYK member Mustafa Özyürek said it would be the most effective way for Baykal to return to combat the plots initiated against the party, as well as the immoral statements made by the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP. Özyürek further called for Sav’s resignation. In response, Sav said Özyürek’s calls are not important and that the matter does not concern him.
Kılıçdaroğlu said all the developments are likely to lead to the birth of a more “healthy child.”
Baykal had not made a statement as the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review went to press.
In a survey conducted before Kılıçdaroğlu officially announced his candidacy, 27.6 percent of 1,100 respondents said they would vote in favor of the CHP if an election were held today. The results of the poll by the research company Metropoll, which is affiliated with the AKP, indicate that Kılıçdaroğlu’s name may be enough to increase the CHP’s support from the 23 percent it had in November 2009.