CHP dissidents challenge leader Kılıçdaroğlu to extraordinary convention

CHP dissidents challenge leader Kılıçdaroğlu to extraordinary convention

CHP dissidents challenge leader Kılıçdaroğlu to extraordinary convention

Muharrem İnce, the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) presidential candidate in the June elections, has once again defied party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to bring the party to an extraordinary convention, in what is seen as a major leadership challenge to the CHP’s longtime chair.

Dissident deputies of Turkey's main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) have announced that they collected enough number of signatures from delegates to force incumbent chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu bring the party to an extraordinary convention.

MPs Yaşar Tüzün and Gaye Usluer said on Twitter on July 30 that the notary-approved signatures would be officially delivered to the CHP's headquarters on August 2.

“If I become [party] leader in the upcoming period, the CHP’s presidential candidate [for next presidential elections] will be determined by discussions with civil society representatives and intra-party elections with all members. I will then stand as a presidential candidate,” Muharrem İnce, the main CHP's presidential candidate in the June elections, said on July 30 in front of a notary building in Ankara.

He officially made his promises, confirmed by a notary, stating that if he runs as a presidential candidate but loses the race in the next presidential elections, he will hold a party congress to step down. 

“My concern is not to acquire a seat. My concern is Turkey. I believe this [winning the presidential race] can happen with a long-term preparation. It is not possible to win when you chose a candidate to run 50 days before the elections,” he added, referring to his defeat in the June 24 presidential elections. 

His comments came amid deep internal divisions in the CHP to convey an extraordinary convention that seeks to bring major changes in the party.  

CHP members unhappy with the current administration launched a petition to collect signatures on July 16, after another defeat in the June 24 parliamentary elections, when the party gained 22.6 percent of the votes, 3 percentage points down from what they got in the 2015 elections.

CHP members who are critical of the current administration say they have collected the sufficient number of signatures to convey the congress, which corresponds to more than 635 signatures of 1250 delegates. The legal period for signature collection ended on July 30, as the party administration will have a week to assess the signatures upon the confirmation of a notary.

İnce urged all party delegates to give signatures to notaries until the deadline, saying that he will also have a confirmation from a notary that he will be the next presidential candidate and will “convey the party’s congress if he is not elected [as president].” 

“Delegates should listen to what ordinary people are saying,” he said.

Erdal Aksünger, a party assembly member of the CHP, on July 29 called on Kılıçdaroğlu to convey the congress regardless of the signatures of the delegates. 

“Let’s end the discussion and convey the congress without waiting for the signatures,” he said at a press conference in parliament.

But Kılıçdaroğlu and his administration are saying internal divisions are harming the CHP ahead of the upcoming local elections. Turkey is set to go to local elections in March 2019. 

The party’s top boards will review the signatures and finalize the process in the following seven days. If the necessary number is gathered, the party’s bylaw obligates members to convey a congress within 45 days.

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