İhsanoğlu nomination leads to cracks in CHP
‘It’s completely wrong to reject Atatürk, the reality of the Republic and its gains,’ says Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu defending himself against the criticisms.The appointment of Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu as the joint presidential candidate of the two main opposition parties, has sparked a debate within the Republican People’s Party (CHP), and İhsanoğlu is not thought to represent the party’s authentic worldview.
Around 15 CHP lawmakers came together yesterday under the leadership of former chairman Deniz Baykal to evaluate the appointment and to mull over how they would react to the nomination of İhsanoğlu, a former head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The media reported Baykal as expressing his discomfort with İhsanoğlu’s appointment, but also suggesting that dissidents should not nominate another CHP figure to run against him.
“My friends are as disturbed as me,” Baykal reportedly said.
Negative reactions against Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the head of the CHP, are coming from two camps within the party. While Kemalists, those who are loyal to Atatürk’s principles, say that the CHP’s candidate should reflect Kemalist views, while the leftists within the party slam the party leadership for not finding someone representing more left-wing views.
Groups protest party
A number of organizations and associations that have close links to the CHP have also protested the appointment. The Republican Women’s Association protested the move in a rally in İzmir on June 18.
In response to criticisms, the spokesperson of the CHP, Haluk Koç, said all CHP lawmakers were free to express their opinions, but urged them to stick to party discipline. Koç reminded of Kılıçdaroğlu’s statement that the election was for the presidency and not for the chairmanship of the CHP.
A group of veteran social democrat politicians who served at different layers of the CHP in the past issued a statement in support of İhsanoğlu’s appointment.
“We have come to the conclusion that Mr. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu stands as a candidate that satisfies our expectations, especially after this choice was made after the CHP and MHP leaders conducted separate talks with all political parties and non-governmental organizations,” read the statement.
İhsanoğlu defended himself in his first interview with daily Cumhuriyet on June 18
“It’s completely wrong to reject Atatürk, the reality of the Republic and its gains,” he said.
“Atatürk has a special place in the heart of the Turkish nation as the hero of the fight for independence and as the founder of the Turkish Republic. Contradicting it would be an attitude that doesn’t fit historical reality. For Turkey, Atatürk is what Napoleon is for France or George Washington is for the United States,” İhsanoğlu told Cumhuriyet. Stressing that Atatürk “should neither be consecrated nor rejected,” İhsanoğlu added that “Turkey should have overcome such debates long ago.”