Calm before the storm at the CHP

Calm before the storm at the CHP

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Calm before the storm at the CHP

Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has to make a lot of candidacy decisions. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) is set to determine its local candidates and start its campaign in November. However, disputes may emerge within the party during the local candidate selection process, the pre-election phase may not be too peaceful, and afterwards it may well turn into a huge showdown.

The first target of the groups is Istanbul. Deputy chair Gürsel Tekin has announced his nomination for the CHP’s Istanbul candidacy. It is also expected that Mustafa Sarıgül will submit a petition for membership at the beginning of November. According to surveys in front of Kılıçdaroğlu, the only name who could rival the Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate is Sarıgül. The CHP chair wants to nominate the name who will collect the highest number of votes, and Sarıgül seems to be the closest.

Deniz Baykal opposes Sarıgül’s candidacy. He has openly spoken against Sarıgül and warned that “he may talk.” If Baykal makes harsh statements against Sarıgül and directly opposes his candidacy, then Kılıçdaroğlu may be left in a difficult position.

Baykal’s lobbying with his own constituency is noteworthy. He is at odds with the incumbent mayor in Antalya Mustafa Akaydın and he does not want him to run for office again. He wants to be the determining person here. He also has certain suggestions for those “guarantee” districts in Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir. Kılıçdaroğlu wants a change and wants to make his own mark. Kılıçdaroğlu and Baykal are expected to have a contact for this directly or indirectly.

The CHP group leader in Ankara, Muharrem İnce, stepped forward with a candidacy proposal mainly supported by ultra-nationalist deputies. Kılıçdaroğlu has not decided yet, but he believes he can outrun Gökçek in Ankara only with a name who would appeal to the right and to the conservatives. Contact has therefore been made with Mansur Yavaş, who was the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) candidate in 2009 and who received 29.9 percent of the votes. A CHP advisor met Yavaş and the response was a rejection, on the grounds that “he wanted to continue politics in the MHP.” But the CHP is still pushing for this name. There are two more options: the center-right rooted İlhan Kesici and Mehmet Ali Bayar.

In İzmir, there are developments that may upset the equilibriums. Social democrat Aziz Kocaoğlu’s alternative is İzmir deputy Alaatin Yüksel. The ultra-nationalist wing in İzmir has also made a move, proposing İzmir deputies Birgül Ayman Güler and Aytun Çıray.

This time, it is Kılıçdaroğlu who will be accountable for a possible election loss, not the organization. This is because he is now considered to have passed his internship and is entering the elections at his “master” level. The fight between ultra-nationalists and reformists, which has a low profile at the moment, may bring a major showdown depending on the results of the election. CHP segments that are loyal to the classic Atatürk nationalism may emerge, with the support of names such as Baykal, with a demand to change the Kılıçdaroğlu administration.

The AKP may withdraw presidential system

The AKP and CHP groups are continuing their contacts on making a package out of the 60 articles on which Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission has a consensus. The process is moving smoothly for the time being, and it is being whispered in the lobbies that the AKP may withdraw its presidential system proposal at the last minute, and that the number of agreed upon clauses would then jump to 100. It may be that the AKP will ask for the “president affiliated with a political party” model in return for this, but it is not yet certain whether the opposition would resist this demand.

Kurds to enter race for Çankaya

While talking to Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş in Parliament, the topic also turned to the presidential elections in August 2014. Without any hesitation, Demirtaş said the Kurds would also enter the race and would absolutely create another option. “We will definitely have a candidate. We have made the decision to present a candidate to the public,” said Demirtaş, without giving any clue to who the candidate may be. The name of Ahmet Türk is being put forward by lobbies but because he is only a high-school graduate, he cannot be a candidate. The possibility of the Kurds entering the race for Çankaya with a female candidate looks much higher.