Böke will not run for Turkey’s main opposition CHP chair after resignation

Böke will not run for Turkey’s main opposition CHP chair after resignation

Böke will not run for Turkey’s main opposition CHP chair after resignation

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Selin Sayek Böke, who recently announced her resignation from her duties in the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has said she will not run for the party leadership. 

Böke, who was the CHP’s spokesperson, deputy leader responsible for the economy, and Central Executive Board (MYK) member, resigned from her posts on May 6, saying her resignation was a “political objection.”

“I won’t run for the party leadership. This resignation isn’t about the CHP’s congress process. I’m not willing to run. The CHP’s needs to discuss the party’s future according to political views, not according to individuals. A regular congress process that will give this opportunity has already started,” Böke told daily Cumhuriyet on May 12.

Unlike some party dissidents, she stressed that the CHP does not need an extraordinary congress to be called. 

“The CHP needs a political debate that starts from the party base during the regular congress process. That’s healthy because holding a regular congress will give an opportunity for all bodies of the party and participants at all levels to speak in their mind,” she added.  

Saying that there were “no surprises” for CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in her resignation letter, Böke noted that she had frequently voiced her objections to the party’s practices. 

She also criticized the CHP’s actions after the April 16 constitutional referendum, saying it did “not present a strong enough political alternative for ‘No’ voters.” 

Turkish voters went to the polls on April 16 to decide whether to approve changes to the country’s constitution, including a shift from the parliamentary system to an executive presidency.     

According to official results by the Supreme Election Board (YSK), the “yes” campaign won with 51.41 percent, while the “no” vote stood at 48.59 percent. The YSK decision to accept ballots without an official stamp “unless it can be proved that they were brought from outside the voting room” sparked a major debate on the results, with the CHP appealing against it. 

“We told millions of people to go to the ballot boxes even if they’re sick. We said, ‘If you’re not there, democracy is lacking.’ Our duty was to protect the people’s will with the same determination and persistence. I shared these thoughts [with the party]. The CHP should be the political alternative in a secular and democratic left that is obliged to be the voice of those oppressed under the current order in the face of politics presented by the AKP. I voiced my objections that I thought this alternative was not presented strongly enough,” Böke said. 

She noted that during the referendum campaign process they saw millions of people voicing their demands with courage despite all pressure from the government. 

“Our responsibility is not to persuade those left out of those millions, but to be the voice of those millions ... In the referendum meetings I always said ‘No’ must not be an issue supported only by political parties. Politics and democracy can also take place on a ground where individuals are able to organize outside political parties and can team up with political parties. So if you’re not able to use your constitutional democratic right on the street, then democracy is lacking,” Böke said.

She also stated that the struggle inside parliament should now be redefined under new circumstances. 
“But I think that a political struggle limited to [parliament] is not sufficient in opposing such a deep regime change. I think a new political ground should be formed that will remind those who want to use their democratic rights on the streets that the streets should not be feared or equated with terror. Rather, [the street] is a constitutional right and the most basic definition of democracy,” she added.