Kılıçdaroğlu wins CHP leadership, challenges Turkish PM 'Mr. Recep'
ANKARA — Hürriyet Daily News | 5/22/2010 12:00:00 AM | İzgi GÜNGÖR
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was chosen to be the seventh leader of Turkey's main opposition party on Saturday. 'Our duty is just beginning, but this duty actually falls onto everyone’s shoulders,' he said. (UPDATED)
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was chosen to be the seventh leader of the Republican People’s Party, or CHP, in a historic party convention Saturday.
He was elected with 1,189 votes out of the 1,197 delegates who voted in Saturday’s convention.
“I now have a very important seat inherited from Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and İsmet İnönü,” Kılıçdaroğlu said after the votes were tallied. “Our duty is just beginning, but this duty actually falls onto everyone’s shoulders.”
Kılıçdaroğlu also addressed the convention for more than an hour before the voting on Saturday. In his speech, Kılıçdaroğlu targeted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with the motto, “Turkey begins its great run instead of march with the convention.”
With a reputation for being calm, Kılıçdaroğlu turned his guns on Erdoğan and leveled harsh criticism against his policies in his speech.
He also announced that through the convention, the CHP had launched a “run” instead of a march to make Turkey a more modern and democratic country.
Unlike other politicians and former CHP leader Deniz Baykal, Kılıçdaroğlu addressed Erdoğan as “Mr. Recep” instead of “Prime Minister,” using his first name to make Erdoğan seem like an ordinary political figure.
During his speech, which was repeatedly interrupted by applause and chants, including “Prime Minister Kılıçdaroğlu,” the new CHP leader criticized Erdoğan for interfering in the main opposition party’s internal affairs.
“As far as I know, no one from Kasımpaşa [a district in Istanbul where Erdoğan was born] engages in rumor. It is the duty of Kasımpaşa people to take his [Erdoğan’s] power back,” he said.
He said the country’s values were turned upside-down during the rule of the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, which he said harmed law and democracy. The AKP came to power in a bid to fight corruption and make people wealthy but they enriched only themselves, Kılıçdaroğlu said.
“They stay in seven-star hotels and use jeeps. One private plane remains insufficient, and he buys a second one,” he said. “Their children study in the United States, but they still play the victim.”
“But we will fight corruption in a real sense and bring the injustice to an end,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. “We will restructure the country from the beginning. We will improve democracy with law.”
[HH] ‘We will end empire of fear, fascism ’
Kılıçdaroğlu also criticized the AKP for creating an “empire of fear,” saying that the public was concerned about wiretaps and similar practices.
“Is this fascism or democracy? We will end this fascism. Nobody including the media and NGOs can criticize Erdoğan and the AKP for fear of the ruling government,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. “As far I know, governments can be criticized. We will end this empire of fear.”
He also said a new concept of “pro-government media” emerged alongside the AKP.
“Are you happy with this concept? The media is the ear, the eye and the voice of the public, but it turned into the eye and the ear of Erdoğan,” he said. “This concept will end when we come to power.”
Kılıçdaroğlu also criticized the state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, or TRT, for turning into a pro-government broadcast. He called the TRT the “Tayyip Radio and Television Corporation.”
After the creation of the pro-government media, Kılıçdaroğlu said, Erdoğan was trying to establish his own judiciary with the recent constitutional amendments.
Kılıçdaroğlu regularly referred to social democrat values with an emphasis on governing the country with policies that benefit the public.
[HH] Election threshold
He said the CHP would combat poverty and unemployment if it comes to power. The CHP would work closely with retired citizens, workers and unemployed, he said, adding that he would produce policies to eliminate economic and social disparities.
Kılıçdaroğlu also said he would reduce the 10 percent election threshold and that a political ethics law would be passed to make politicians who are engaged in corruption to be subject to judicial supervision. He also said the CHP would lift parliamentary immunity for deputies.
[HH] Challenging the EU
Kılıçdaroğlu also challenged the European Union, saying that the party wanted to align Turkey’s norms and standards with the EU but that double standards could not be applied to Turkey in its accession process.
“Of course we want to be among the prominent countries of the world,” he said.
Baykal, meanwhile, did not send a message to the convention, but he was expected to issue a statement after the convention.