CHP eyeing return to social democrat roots

CHP eyeing return to social democrat roots

Göksel Bozkurt / Hüseyin Hayatsever ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
CHP eyeing return to social democrat roots

The leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who prioritizes democracy, freedom and human rights instead of old-guard party policies prioritizing secularism, will put his organizational stamp by renewing the party.

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) is set to return to its social-democratic roots at its 34th ordinary congress with leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu expected to add new social-democratic figures to his A-team ahead of upcoming local elections and presidential elections, both slated for 2014.

At the congress, Kılıçdaroğlu will release his “Democracy and Freedom Manifesto,” which includes criticism of the government’s interference in the judiciary and “individual rights and choices,” and the government’s “utopian foreign policy,” the Hürriyet Daily News has learned.

The CHP congress is convening today with hopes of shifting back to its social-democratic roots, as party grassroots request more leftist and social-democrat figures within the party administration.
Kılıçdaroğlu held separate meetings with CHP lawmakers and CHP provincial chairpersons over the weekend, in which he listened to their views about the congress.

CHP’s provincial chairpersons requested that leftist and social-democrat figures gain more seats in the CHP’s party assembly, the Daily News has learned.

Kılıçdaroğlu, for his part, vowed that the party would move in a more leftist and social-democratic direction after the congress, adding that it would be the CHP’s “institutionalization congress.”

“The CHP will be renewed after this congress. We will use more leftist and social-democrat discourse. We will highlight democracy, freedom and human rights in our congress. We will remove government pressure, which is the biggest barrier to democracy. We will also take part in the Socialist International administration,” Kılıçdaroğlu was quoted as saying in daily Hürriyet yesterday.

Kılıçdaroğlu, who prioritized democracy, freedom and human rights instead of old-guard party policies prioritizing secularism and Kemalism, will put his stamp on the party once more by renewing the party assembly.

On the first day of the two-day congress, the CHP’s 1,282 delegates will elect the chairman. No rivals are expected to compete against Kılıçdaroğlu. The CHP’s 60-seat party assembly will be elected tomorrow on the second day of the congress, where tough competition is expected.

Party assembly members will be elected by an “open-list” method; by which any CHP member can stand as a candidate for party assembly membership. Previously such elections within the CHP were done with a “bloc-list” method in which the chairman formed a list that was then voted on by delegates.

According to information the Daily News gathered from party sources, some lawmakers in Saturday’s meeting asked Kılıçdaroğlu to insist on the “bloc-list” method for the party assembly elections, on the grounds that “party assembly members loyal to the chairman are in favor of the party’s unity and solidarity.”

The CHP’s provincial chairpersons, on the other hand, expressed their desire for the “open-list” method. Kılıçdaroğlu reportedly said that the party assembly would be elected by the open-list method, but he would reveal a “key list” to delegates and seek support for the team he wants to work with.

He is expected to determine more than 60 names for party assembly memberships, but delegates will be free to choose the members on Kılıçdaroğlu’s key list or other members.

Many names are being circulated in CHP corridors for Kılıçdaroğlu’s key list for the party assembly elections. A number of lawmakers are expected to be on Kılıçdaroğlu’s list, among them Şafak Pavey, Adnan Keskin and İlhan Cihaner. Social-democrat figures such as Burhan Şenatalar, Fikri Sağlar, Ahmet Özer and Necdet Pamir as well as Ankara Bar Association head Metin Feyzioğlu are expected to be on Kılıçdaroğlu’s list.

Despite his emphasis on social democracy, Kılıçdaroğlu suggested that those who previously supported the right-wing Motherland Party (ANAP) and DYP (True Path Party) should come under the CHP umbrella.

“Those who are uneasy about this totalitarian move should lend their support to the CHP. Let’s save Turkey from this oddity; we can discuss other issues afterward,” Kılıçdaroğlu was quoted as saying in daily Hürriyet yesterday.

I hold the stick of patience

“It is said that I lack charisma, but you will have to get used to that [laughter]. It is necessary to bring a different approach to democracy. All I have is the stick of patience in my hands. There is a famous Chinese story: ‘I had three brothers who were all doctors. The eldest would treat his patients the day they arrived, and no one noticed his death. The second one began treatment once the illness had spread to the whole state, and the day he died, the whole state mourned his loss. The third treated the illness once it spread to the whole country and the whole nation mourned his death,’” Kılıçdaroğlu said in an interview with daily Hürriyet.

“In the story the last two doctors both created and solved the problem. Now, does that make them charismatic? If that is how we define charisma, we would have betrayed democracy. We need to treat the patient as soon as he arrives. That is the way I am. We need to lay out a leader profile that is sincere, honest, a man of his word and respectful to people.”

Why not a female president?

“There is no need for a public poll on this issue since there is no opportunity for propaganda. Would the candidate say, ‘I will assign rectors better’? The public should look at the qualifications, resume and ability in foreign languages of the person who will become our president. The president must be someone who will not be oppressed when confronted by foreigners, who evokes trust, who is able to speak impromptu without the aid of prompters, who is able to concisely and elaborately express his ideas, and who is well-educated,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in an interview with daily Milliyet when asked about his party’s plans for presidential nominations.

“The president could be male or female. Why shouldn’t a female president come with the Turkish Republic in the 21st century? Who would have imagined a female chair of a conservative political party? Tansu Çiller was the chair of a right-wing party and served as the prime minister in this country.”

Arms open to Tekin, Sarıgül


In an interview with daily Akşam, Kılıçdaroğlu expressed desire to have Gürsel Tekin, former deputy chair of the CHP, in the party council again as well as to have Şişli Mayor Mustafa Sarıgül as a CHP member.

“I do want him [Tekin] to take part in the party council. I have discussed this matter with him. He is positive towards the whole thing as well. He is currently already a party council member and of course I would like for him to be elected in the new management,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

“Our door is open to anyone. Sarıgül is a successful mayor and we would be glad to have him in our party,” he responded when asked whether Sarıgül could be the CHP candidate for Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality mayor in the 2014 local elections.