Main opposition fails to calm down feud within
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the the Republican People’s Party, speaks at a party meeting. The immediate aim of the intra-party opposition is to secure the convention of a congress and then maneuver to force Kılıçdaroğlu to agree to a leader election. AA photoIntra-party struggle appears set to intensify within the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) as opponents of Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu are weighing an attempt to force a congress on amending the party statute.
“I’m calling on our party members to take a stand in favor of a democratic party statute. Our delegates can do anything for a democratic statute including convening a congress,” deputy İsa Gök said after his proposal to convene a congress was rejected at the CHP’s Party Assembly meeting Dec. 22.
Gök’s statement is a signal that Kılıçdaroğlu’s opponents could start collecting signatures to force the convention of a “statute congress,” party sources said. According to the CHP’s current statute, one fifth of nearly 1,250 party delegates can call a congress. However, leader election cannot be held at such extraordinary congresses unless the chairman or half of the delegates backs the election.
During the stormy meeting, members close to former leader Deniz Baykal and former Secretary-General Önder Sav criticized Kılıçdaroğlu for having failed to keep promises to improve intra-party democracy, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned. They recalled that Kılıçdaroğlu had promised to amend the party statute when he was elected in May 2010.
A deputy known to be close to Baykal, Osman Kaptan, attacked Kılıçdaroğlu on grounds he was favoring Alevis like himself for the party’s higher ranks. Other deputies shouted at Kaptan, calling him “a fascist” and forcing him to leave.
The immediate aim of the intra-party opposition is to secure the convention of a congress and then maneuver to force Kılıçdaroğlu to agree to a chairmanship election, sources said.
Baykal’s attitude will be crucial in the process. The veteran politician, who has kept silent since the June 12 elections, visited the Aegean province of İzmir, a long-time CHP stronghold, on Dec. 13 and was given a hero’s welcome by party members. Speaking to a local newspaper, Baykal denied he could consider retaking the chairmanship. “I don’t demand the chairmanship, it’s out of the question for me,” he said.
But those loyal to Kılıçdaroğlu are not convinced. They point to the get-well visit that Baykal paid to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan this week, grabbing the spotlight from Kılıçdaroğlu. Sources said the visit came as a surprise for the party leadership, which was not informed in advance of Baykal’s intention to visit Erdoğan.
Patience until May
Baykal is reportedly advising his circle to be patient until May 2012 when the party’s provincial congresses would be completed, shaping the structure of delegates, party sources said. The tensions have been brewing since the June 12 elections after which Kılıçdaroğlu’s opponents began collecting signatures from delegates for a congress. However, they abandoned their drive on grounds that “Turkey is passing through a critical stage,” a reference to the CHP’s parliamentary boycott at the time over the continued incarceration of two of its newly-elected deputies.