Main opposition CHP leader slams dissidents amid works on party’s future road map
ANKARAMain opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has slammed dissident voices among the party’s cadre, amid works on a road map for the upcoming presidential election, in a bid to “hold 49 percent of the ‘no’ votes together.”
“Nobody should exceed the level of criticism and say ‘I can say whatever I want publicly.’ I will show the door to whoever harms the party. It is that simple,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in an interview with private broadcaster NTV late May 3.
“I will eliminate them from the party. They can form their own parties. For example, they can form a gossip party where they can gossip all day long,” he added.
His comments came after former CHP leader Deniz Baykal urged Kılıçdaroğlu to commence a process to determine the presidential candidate of the party and said “either be the candidate or step out.”
Baykal also suggested former President Abdullah Gül to be the candidate of the referendum’s opposition front, the 49 percent of the electorate that said “no” on April 16, likening it to Greece’s Panhellenic Socialist Movement’s (PASOK) model in 1981. He also suggested Meral Akşener, a former member and dissident name from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and Kurdish issue-focused People’s Democratic Party’s (HDP) Ahmet Türk to be a part of the “49 percent campaign.”
The suggestion stirred debate within the CHP, emerging dissident voices from the party to call for Kılıçdaroğlu’s resignation as leader.
“Kılıçdaroğlu has fought against a one-man regime but he became a ‘one man’ in his party,” CHP lawmaker Fikri Sağlar told daily Akşam on May 2.
He was later referred to a disciplinary board over his “one-man” remarks.
When asked about the opposition members, Kılıçdaroğlu spoke harshly against them.
“I can say it easily that all our friends within our party can express their thoughts freely. They can criticize everybody including the leader. We do that. But nobody should see themselves above the party,” he said, defending the disciplinary proceeding.
“Futile discussions have no place in the party. Everybody should know that,” he added.
Kılıçdaroğlu to visit party leaders for presidential elections
Kılıçdaroğlu hinted that party commissions would determine the road map of the party’s future, adding that Baykal’s statements over the presidential candidate were not received well by CHP cadres.
“We respect Mr. Baykal’s statements, but we have authorized boards for that. The boards discuss the presidential candidates and the strategies,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu suggested that the party could focus on a strategy to unite 49 percent of the voters who said “no” to the charter changes, adding that the opposition segment of the electorate also voted against a partisan presidency.
“The president should be impartial and give confidence to every segment of the society. If the president pursues its ties with a political party, then they cannot be the president,” he said.
“They [candidate] should believe in the founding values of Turkey, the strength of the parliament and the principles of democracy. There are many people who meet these criteria,” he said, dismissing the question over the possibility of his own candidacy.
When asked about the candidacy of Gül, Kılıçdaroğlu said, “I do not find it right to speak about names in this process.”
“We do not have the right to give harm to individuals and point them as targets,” he said.
Three-phased road map
Kılıçdaroğlu said he will visit the leaders of political parties next week as a part of the determination process for the road map.
“I have visited more than 50 non-governmental organizations. I will visit the leaders of some political parties next week,” he said.
The party, on the other hand, is working on a three-phased road map to form a strategy for the 2019 presidential elections.
The CHP will first examine the motives and concerns of voters who cast their votes against the constitutional changes. Then it will determine a strategy to unite the 49 percent electorate. The third phase will be to speak to 51 percent of the voters who voted “yes” and find a way to win their votes.