Kılıçdaroğlu re-elected as the CHP chief

Kılıçdaroğlu re-elected as the CHP chief

Kılıçdaroğlu re-elected as the CHP chief

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (L) and his contender Muharrem İnce salute the crowd at the Republican People’s Party's (CHP) extraordinary congress in Ankara, Sept. 5. AA Photo

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) voted in favor of the re-election of Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as the party’s chairman in his race against Yalova Deputy Muharrem İnce on Sept. 5.

Kılıçdaroğlu received 740 votes from 1,265 delegates, while İnce garnered 415 votes. İnce received nearly three times more votes than the number of signatures he received for his candidacy, showing he was able to secure the support of nearly one-third of the delegates.

Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy was backed by 944 delegates going into the congress. Kılıçdaroğlu has been the CHP’s chairman since 2010 but said he could leave the office if the party loses votes at a meaningful level in upcoming parliamentary elections in 2015.

After the results were announced, Kılıçdaroğlu took the stage to thank the congress for his election, saying: “Today is a democracy fest. From now on, there is no disintegration but unity.”

He also invited İnce to the stage to give an image of unity. “Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu was my contender … but now he is my chairman,” İnce said, adding that he would work more than ever for the success of the CHP.

The CHP will also elect its 60-seat party assembly on Sept. 6.

Either abide by rules or leave the party, CHP chief tells dissidents

Kılıçdaroğlu  has urged his opponents to either abide by the party’s rules and principles or depart, vowing he will no longer tolerate those who deviate from the established party line.  

“There are elitists [within the party]; they save Turkey from their rakı tables. Everybody should perfectly know this: I will clear the party of these people. I am in need of hardworking men, not of those who speak at rakı tables,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in a speech at the congress. “Saving Turkey” is an ironic phrase mainly used for to social democrats, who discuss ways to rescue the country after a few glasses of rakı.

“Have any of these [dissidents] promoted projects that we have produced? We’ll make more projects and work properly. I denounce elitism. I am a son of the Republic. I am Kemal of Dersim, revolutionary Kemal,” he added, using the original name for his hometown, Tunceli.

Kılıçdaroğlu targeted his neo-nationalist opposition within the party who claim that the party is moving to a more center-right line, drifting away from the founding principles of the party and endorsing Atatürk’s ideology less strongly under Kılıçdaroğlu’s leadership. He also responded to criticisms that he has brought one-man rule to the party through undemocratic measures.

Giving examples of his acts as a leftist politician, Kılıçdaroğlu cited projects generated by the party on economy, social problems and many other fields that can never be undertaken by rightist parties. “I just want to ask a question: Which CHP chairman visited the tomb of Deniz Gezmiş and his friends? I did. We are genuine revolutionaries, not fake ones,” he said, referring to the country’s most celebrated leftist revolutionary.

Respecting to different identities and faiths does not mean moving to center-right policies, Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding that he would continue to have respect for all different identities. “I openly say this, the whole world should listen: I love every human being without discriminating them as rightist or leftist.”

'Democracy is not chaos'

One of the criticisms directed against Kılıçdaroğlu is that he has become more oppressive even though he pursued a more democratic line when he was first elected as chairman. “No one should dare to lecture me on democracy. Don’t feel offended. I know what democracy is and what discipline is. I was silent until yesterday, it’s true. But from now on, I will not allow those who rush to the microphones to criticize the CHP,” he said.  

“We are for democracy. But democracy does not mean chaos. After registering with a political party, you either have to abide by its rules and to leave it. There is no third option,” he said.

Kılıçdaroğlu said he was seeking to purge dissidents from the party but added that his main intention was to create unity in the party. “Once the party approves a decision, then nobody can speak against these decisions on television channels. I will not allow this. The CHP is not a think tank. You can freely speak at universities or become the head of a civil society organization and speak the way you like. But you cannot violate the party program and internal regulations once you acquire the party identity card,” he said.

‘We’ll resolve the Kurdish question’

As expected, Kılıçdaroğlu also touched on the Kurdish problem as he described it as the country’s most crucial issue along with unemployment.  

This problem cannot be resolved through military means, he said, adding that the CHP was fully determined to bring about solutions to the issue. “This is a problem of freedom and democracy. There is no problem we can’t resolve through democracy and freedom,” he said. The CHP leader repeated that the party will fully abide by the Council of Europe’s Charter on Local Governance on which Turkey imposed eight reservations when it signed in 1992.     

İnce: The voice of the outcry

İnce addressed the congress before Kılıçdaroğlu; describing himself as the “voice of the outcry,” he strongly criticized Kılıçdaroğlu for moving the party to the center-right line by appointing conservative figures for both the Ankara mayoral race and presidential elections.

“It’s a shame on the CHP as a 90-year-old party, if it can’t find a nominee from its own cadres. It’s OK to ask for votes from the rightists and to gain new figures from there, but it’s not OK to drift away from our own principles and values,” İnce said.

The CHP nominated Mansur Yavaş, a former nationalist hardliner, for the Ankara mayoral race and Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, former secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). The CHP lost both elections.

“I have no any personal problem with Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu. I have no single doubt that he is an honest person. But he gifted Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with the presidency with his wrong policies. This is what I cannot digest; this is what I am revolting against,” he said.

İnce said the 2015 elections would be the last one until 2019 and called on his party colleagues to give him a chance to bring the CHP to power.

“These elections are the last exit before the bridge. There won’t be any other elections afterwards. If the CHP gets around 24 percent of votes and the AKP [Justice and Development Party] around 45 percent, then they could have 367 seats in Parliament,” he said.

This would allow the AKP to turn the administrative system into a presidential one, İnce said. “Afterwards, whoever will be the chairman of the CHP will have no importance at all.”