ANALYSIS: CHP leader fails to save his close aides from delegates’ fury

ANALYSIS: CHP leader fails to save his close aides from delegates’ fury

Özgür Korkmaz / ANKARA
ANALYSIS: CHP leader fails to save his close aides from delegates’ fury

AA Photo

The administration of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) was re-shaped at the party’s convention over the weekend, with party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu failing to make his mark on the party assembly.

Kılıçdaroğlu, who said the party’s 35th Regular Convention would bring further change, had already taken a step by including only 17 former members on his list for the 60-seat party assembly, the highest decision-making body of the CHP from which Kılıçdaroğlu appoints his closest aides to the Central Decision-Making Council (MYK).  

However, party delegates were apparently not satisfied with the party leader’s list, hence only 29 names included in the list made it to the party assembly, according to the results announced early on Jan. 18. Meanwhile, 23 party members managed to make their way to the body despite not being included in Kılıçdaroğlu’s “key list.”

Eight members of the assembly will come from the Platform on Science, Administration and Culture. 

Among those who failed to get enough votes to be elected to the party assembly were four deputy leaders, Faik Öztrak, Enis Berberoğlu, Seyhan Erdoğdu and Nihat Matkap, and the party’s secretary general, Gürsel Tekin. Deputy leader Mehmet Bekaroğlu ran for the platform and also failed to make it. 

Three of Kılıçdaroğlu’s deputies did not seek re-election, meaning that only eight of the 15-member MYK will be available for Kılıçdaroğlu to pick his “A team.” 

With an amendment to the party’s bylaws approved at the convention, the party leader is free to decide the number of MYK members and his deputies. Kılıçdaroğlu is widely expected to announce a smaller MYK, with some of key aides being left out.

Selin Sayek Böke, the party’s deputy leader in charge of economic polices, was the star of the convention, receiving the most votes for the party assembly with 691. She was followed by Erdal Aksünger, an advisor to Kılıçdaroğlu, who got 595 votes. 

In the third spot was a surprise name, former Culture Minister Fikri Sağlar, who was elected with 591 votes despite not being in the party leader’s list. 

It was the second time Sağlar achieved this feat, as he was one of the only four names that were elected to the party administration out of the list in the 2014 convention.

Among other names elected outside the party leader’s list were Istanbul lawmakers Eren Erde and Gamze Akkuş İlgezdi, also former Ergenekon suspects; ex-lieutenant Mehmet Ali Çelebi and former public prosecutor İlhan Cihaner, and Gürsel Erol, a lawmaker from Kılıçdaroğlu’s hometown Tunceli who was in charge of organizing the convention.

The results can be seen as alarming for Kılıçdaroğlu, who took the first blow when only 990 of the 1,238 votes cast in the party leader election were in his favor on Jan. 16. Though he was the sole candidate, after lawmaker Mustafa Balbay, a former journalist, failed to garner the 127 signatures from the delegates to be able to run, 248 delegates cast invalid votes. 

“We will open a new page in Turkey. We will bring democracy and freedoms. We will fight unemployment. We will be the party of the poor and the disowned. We will defend their rights,” Kılıçdaroğlu said after his election to the top party post for the fourth time was announced late Jan. 16.

But his task will not be easy, since the results of the convention show that many party members believe change is coming at too slow a pace. Kılıçdaroğlu may be the next to pay the price.