CHP rules out early polls, focuses on local governments
Serkan Demirtaş - ANKARA
Republican People’s Party (CHP) will not push for early elections despite its historic wins in mayoral polls in Istanbul and Ankara, the party chairman said.
The main opposition party, instead, will focus on successfully governing the municipalities it won in March and gaining voter confidence for the next general elections in 2023, said CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu during a meeting with Ankara bureau chiefs in the capital city on April 19.
“We are not calling for early elections. There is no such an environment. I have underlined even before the local elections that calling for early elections is not on our agenda,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
“To the contrary, we want to focus on the activities of our municipalities so that they can develop a success story in the eyes of the public opinion. The people will therefore be able to assess the successes of the CHP mayors whereas the central government fails to deliver its promises,” the party chairman said.
The CHP won İstanbul and Ankara - Turkey’s two largest metropoles – ending the 25-year rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Kılıçdaroğlu described the victories as a big accomplishment but emphasized that the party’s work has just begun.
“Our mayors will start to deliver the promises they have given to the people. As they are now elected, they are the mayors of every voter in their constituencies,” he said.
The CHP general headquarters will regularly check on the performance of each mayor, he added.
The new mayors have received a document from CHP listing 10 main principles to guide them in conducting their jobs, Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Among the principles are adopting a positive language, addressing the needs of the people from all walks of life, prioritizing eligibility in appointments, continuing projects that have already been launched by former mayors, being transparent on municipal accounts and prioritizing disadvantaged groups such as people with disabilities.
No political tension needed
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on April 18 that political tensions from the March elections need to be eased. Kılıçdaroğlu responded that his party has never been interested in escalating tension and accused the president of doing so, particularly on the eve of elections.
Erdoğan’s call for the de-escalation of tension is a positive one, but they cannot be sure that he will not change his language the next morning, the CHP leader said.
“He has such a character. Most of the time, he is adversely affected by developments, and he flies into a rage without being able to cool off and to think over the matters. We have seen this in the past. That escalates the tension.”
When asked about Erdoğan’s call for Turks to unify after the election, Kılıçdaroğlu said his party has always supported unity to address national issues.
“Especially on matters concerning the foreign policy. But let me underline one thing. It should be the government that seeks this sort of an alliance. It should not be in a position to obstruct it,” he said.
Turkey isolated on foreign policy
The economic downturn and other problems stemming from the mishandling of foreign policy presents a huge challenge for Turkey, Kılıçdaroğlu said. For example, he said, Turkey has distanced itself from the West because of a deteriorated state of democracy and the decision to purchase S-400 missiles from Russia.
One reason for poor management of the country’s foreign policy is the exclusion of the Foreign Ministry and other state bodies from decision-making processes, the CHP chief said.
“This understanding ‘I know everything very good,’ [and] ‘I don’t need anybody’s view’ is the source of this picture. They say they purchase S-400s from Russia because of our security needs. But they have never explained on what threats and on what security needs this procurement is taking place. If they don’t want to inform us, they could perfectly hold a secret session at the Parliament on this issue,” he stated.
Some reports suggest that Turkey may deploy the S-400s to Azerbaijan or Qatar in order to avoid United States sanctions, he said.
“Well, if we don’t deploy them here, why do we pay money to purchase them?” he asked.
Kılıçdaroğlu said foreign policy problems isolate Turkey from the contemporary world.
“Turkey has become a country on which some countries are holding bargains. On the one side of these bargains is (U.S. President Donald) Trump and on the other is (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. Turkey has never, ever been in such an unfortunate situation,” he said.