CHP, the miserable party
Can there be a political party more miserable, incompetent, clumsy and factious than the perennial main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP)? Many people have kept stressing on in the past many decades that this country does not a government problem; what is absent is a credible opposition capable enough to be an alternative to those in government.
What happened on April 16? There are claims that the rigging of the referendum could not be possible at the election booths, but instead the body overseeing the elections was held hostage. How accurate are these claims? Did the Supreme Elections Board (YSK) indeed decide to accept 2.5 million unsealed ballot envelopes as valid? How accurate are allegations that all those 2.5 million unsealed ballot envelopes had “Yes” votes stamped on them? Naturally, Turkey’s independent elections board brushed off such claims as irrelevant, declaring, in a bold statement, that “illegality was not fully found.” How could one determine illegality fully? The statement reminded me of an old saying about half pregnancy. Can a lady be “half pregnant?”
The April 16 vote has become part of the bitter history. The declaration of CHP lawmaker Selin Sayek Böke that the CHP may make the decision to abandon the parliament in the aftermath of the referendum has expired as well as her position as the party’s spokesperson after she quit executive positions in protest against the instable stance the party has taken, which resonates a drunkard incapable of doing anything.
Albeit, for the first time in many years, some significant improvement was achieved in forging a “modern alliance in Turkey,” between Kemalists, secularists, nationalists and - of course - the Kurds, socialists, communists and opportunistic fascists. Was it possible to have some dissidents of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the neo-nationalist and former Maoist Homeland Party (VP) and Kurdish ethnic nationalists, of whom some are sympathizers of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) separatist gang, as well as nationalist Kemalists, in one melting pot? This was achieved. Of course, there were some leaks from that pot, but something unprecedented was forged, and the nation, despite all the allegations of fraud; rigging and irregularities done by the YSK, a 48.6 percent front was established against the country heading toward a one-man tyranny.
What should have been the duty of the CHP after the April 16 referendum defeat, which actually was a precious and promising victory? Is it suitable for a statesman like former CHP leader Deniz Baykal to try to take advantage of the situation to entitle himself as a presidential candidate for 2019? Or, was it appropriate to try to return to the 2010 video cassette operation that Baykal was involved in by forcing CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to announce his presidential candidacy or step down from party leadership and let it be occupied by someone who would want to become a presidential candidate?
Everyone seems to have forgotten that 48.6 percent of the electorate united behind the “No” vote thanks to the embracing policies pursued by Kılıçdaroğlu. If Kılıçdaroğlu was not the leader of the CHP, would it be possible for Baykal to make all those statesman-like contributions to the campaign, or could Muharrem İnce, a former contender for the party’s leadership, be given the opportunity to address the masses as the spokesman of the party? Regardless of what anyone says about Kılıçdaroğlu, he very much acted as a democratic leader, which the nation has been aspiring to see.
But the CHP is a party of factions. This is both richness and the weakest point of social democrats. Respecting conflicting views, going to conventions whenever there is a need, and allowing the rules of democracy rather than having the ego of an absolute ruler dominate have been characteristics of the Turkish left.
Can such an attitude be weakness or richness to a political movement? If that political movement cannot reconcile differences and continue to spend time with self-centered futile discussions, unfortunately what appears to be richness becomes reason for failure. The CHP, however, must assume its duty as the leading element of being pro-democracy, a part of a pro-modernity coalition, and serve yet for another time as an outstanding figure as the party that established the Turkish Republic.