CHP chief's message maintains balance

CHP chief's message maintains balance

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu found a crowd waiting for him to embody his earlier promises of more libertarian policies yesterday at Ankara’s Arena Sports Hall.

Kılıçdaroğlu did not let the crowd down, but he was also at pains not to alienate the pro-secularist and Kemalist executive figures within the party’s administration, while meeting the expectation of libertarian policies. 

Kılıçdaroğlu’s essential message was that by prioritizing democracy, freedom and human rights, the CHP will be refreshed. But he also made it clear that the principles of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, who was also the founder of its oldest party, would remain a guide for this renewal.

The most enthusiastic applause came when Kılıçdaroğlu called for Turkey to take an anti-imperialist stance as a fully independent country, and when he slammed the policies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

In the run-up to the party congress, Kılıçdaroğlu more than once vowed that the party would move in a more leftist and social-democratic direction afterward, adding that this would be the CHP’s “institutionalization congress.”

“Each congress has transformed us a bit more. We have taken one step forward at every congress, and we will take one more at this congress. We will continue to change, transform and renew,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in his speech at the congress. “We have hit the road for a change which is built on the interests of our people, and we are determined to continue on this road.”

On various occasions in the past year, the pro-secularist and Kemalist executive figures within the party’s administration have rebuked Kılıçdaroğlu for embracing extremely liberal approaches which do not fit with a social-democratic party. These figures have suggested that these approaches are intended to shift the party’s axis.

“What do we mean by change? Change is the motivation to reach and go beyond the level of contemporary civilization. If you make efforts in this direction, people will benefit from it. For this reason, our aim is to reach and go beyond the level of contemporary civilization, which is the direction in which Mustafa Kemal Atatürk pointed,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Combining references to Atatürk with messages of determination to follow social democratic values – including democracy, freedom and human rights – was indicative of Kılıçdaroğlu’s roadmap for the near future. Kılıçdaroğlu displayed that doesn’t want to disappoint either the grassroots, who are thirsty for more libertarian policies, or those who are concerned that the CHP will eventually give up its decades-old Republican principles.