What does the CHP say?
TAHA AKYOLWhy is the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) always a party of internal conflicts or “loud congresses”? According to a veteran, Ali Topuz, the reason for this is lack of internal party democracy.
When Bülent Ecevit, who had toppled İsmet İnönü by demanding internal party democracy, became the leader, he changed the statute to silence internal party opposition, prompting fights.
Now the CHP is going to hold two congresses two days apart for the sake of internal party democracy. However, I believe there is another reason for these fights in the CHP: continuous election failures.
If they were a party walking to power, would these fights occur?
You can blame the population for not voting for you but that does not offer any solutions. As a matter of fact, leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu justifiably said, “The blame is not on the people; the blame is on us if we are not able to obtain the support of the people.”
Intellectuals and society
The CHP has to see these two concrete phenomena.
Also in the past, the CHP was not able to come to power but the country’s intellectual initiative was in line with them. For a long time, the line of CHP had lost this intellectual initiative; liberal and conservative ideas had become more influential.
The second one is that the CHP used to gain more votes than today in the old peasant Turkey where literacy was lower and Turkey was closed to the world. Its votes never fell under 33 percent. Today’s Turkey is more urban, more educated and more open to the world and the CHP is getting less votes.
Shouldn’t these reasons be examined from a sociologic point of view?
I can recognize Kılıçdaroğlu’s wish to introduce improvements and I support his effort. But when he was criticizing the government’s Syria policy, the fact that he said, “Turkey’s place is at the side of oppressed nations” is a sign of the confusion within the CHP.
What does that mean? Wasn’t Turkey’s place the West?
Also, is there a terminology left in today’s era of “oppressed nations”? Atatürk had left that notion after the victory. It is a concept that belongs to so many years ago. Now in this contemporary era it is called “developing nations.” One needs to talk about Middle Eastern, Asian or African initiatives.
One of the reasons of CHP’s internal fights is that their minds are confused.
While you’re addressing the people, shouldn’t you talk with the economic, social and political language of the segment you target that will vote for you?
Turkey is changing. The rural mindset is dissolving sociologically in Anatolia. SMEs and small and medium sized entrepreneurs have taken the place of old-fashioned craftsmanship. These are the rising sociological plates of “our people” that pioneer in the society’s development. Shouldn’t they be the vital interlocutors of a social democrat party?
A little bit of old-school Kemalism, another bit old-school leftism: These do not bring votes in the former ratios in the new Turkey and some modern social democracy. This does not translate into being consistent and credible both for the intellectuals and for the general public. CHP has to write a new “book” – a theory, a skeleton text that speaks the language of today’s Turkey and today’s world offering a vision for the future.
Ecevit’s book “Atatürk and Revolutionism” was like this in the 1970s and it was mostly addressing the peasant. Unless it presents a new book, a vision addressing today’s Turkey and today’s world, it will be impossible to create a union of discourses in the CHP and empathy with wide segments of society. It does not happen anyway.
Taha Akyol is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece appeared Feb. 3. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.