CHP leader set to run in primaries for democracy

CHP leader set to run in primaries for democracy

Okan Konuralp ANKARA
CHP leader set to run in primaries for democracy

AA Photo

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, chairman of the social democrat opposition party, has opted to run in party primaries before the 2015 parliamentary polls in response to calls from İzmir as well as to emphasize the meaning of democracy, particularly when it has been losing import in Turkey.

“I hope my decision to run for internal elections will set an example for all of Turkey to emphasize the meaning of democracy at a moment when it has been losing its meaning,” said Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of Republican People’s Party (CHP), on his Twitter account March 19. Kılıçdaroğlu will run in İzmir, one of the strongholds of the CHP.

Answering questions from a small group reporters traveling with him to Elazığ, Kılıçdaroğlu explained how he took this decision, a rather rare move given the political traditions of the country. “Our mayor in İzmir proposed to me that I run for primary elections [from İzmir]. It was a surprise proposal for me, too. I said I would consider it, and after listening to the calls of the city, I decided to run for pre-elections,” he said.

Underlining that he was not worried by primaries, Kılıçdaroğlu said he would fully respect the choices of the CHP delegates who will vote in pre-elections. Asked whether his move was also a message toward senior CHP officials who tend not to compete in primaries but instead seek guaranteed positions to enter parliament, he said: “Lots of thing will change at the CHP. Of course we respect the decisions of all of our members. However, forcing someone to enter the pre-elections is as wrong as forcing quotas.
Every political party should, of course, have a quota. Pre-elections should be a chance given to everyone, especially those who are starting up in politics. But we always favor those who have already been in politics in pre-elections. I believed that this is what is right and what is democratic. I do not know if some of our friends will drop out due to quota issues,” he said.

He also dismissed claims that some party officials would split ways with the CHP in the event they are forced to run in pre-elections and therefore lose the chance to be nominated for parliament. “I believe friendship is very important in social democracies. People will be on a list, off of a list, will be voted in or won’t be voted into parliament, but if you believe in a cause, this cause should not be built on personal gain,” he added.

Here are some excerpts from the interview with the CHP leader:

Critical against the HDP: “I measure the HDP’s [Peoples’ Democratic Party] sincerity through the 10 percent [election] threshold. You talk about democracy and a fair representation [in parliament], but you keep the same position as the AKP [Justice and Development Party] on the 10 percent threshold issue. This is not sincere behavior. The perception that the AKP and the HDP are in a clash seems to serve both parties. However, if you want to end the peace process in a healthy manner, you will put the 1 percent threshold as the first item. 

CHP grassroots won’t vote for the HDP: I do not think that the CHP base will vote for the HDP. All of the public opinion surveys show that HDP will get votes from the AKP base because those who vote for us are a community that believes in democracy, a community that sees how democracy in Turkey is about to turn into a totalitarian regime, a community that notices that the same totalitarian regime is in the east and the southeast. I do not believe that those who believe in democracy, the value of the republic and Atatürk and his revolutions will vote for them.

HDP should pass the 10 threshold: We want the HDP to pass the threshold. The representation of other political parties in parliament is very important toward strengthening democracies. Not only the HDP but the Felicity Party [Saadet], The Homeland Party [Vatan] and the Great Union Party (BBP) should also be in parliament. My belief is that those political parties who even get 1 percent of votes, should at least have their chair represented in parliament. In any case, it should not be forgotten that even if the HDP cannot pass the threshold, the AKP does not have a chance of bringing the presidential system, as the required majority can never be fulfilled. [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan also knows this very well.

MİT against the CHP: The plot attempts against the CHP from the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) have stopped for now. If they had continued, I would have released their names [of MIT officials]. Now we know that they have engaged in some other sort of affairs against the CHP that seek the discredit the party. 

AKP votes on decline: The AKP is the party of the state by all means with the police, governors, and district governors. If the AKP loses power; this would mean that the governors and the whole bureaucracy would also change. The AKP and bureaucracy are expending efforts to stay. All of the pressure is being used. The CHP’s gaining of votes is bothering everyone from the AKP’s officer to the prime minister. But whatever they do, nowhere in the world who has a totalitarian regime has survived. The AKP is in its declining period. On the other hand, we will finish the elections above 35 percent.