CHP stages flamboyant ceremony for Şişli Mayor Sarıgül's return to party

CHP stages flamboyant ceremony for Şişli Mayor Sarıgül's return to party

CHP stages flamboyant ceremony for Şişli Mayor Sarıgüls return to party

More than 40,000 came to the CHP's headquarters in Ankara to celebrate Şişli Mayor Mustafa Sarıgül's return to the party. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

The saga of Şişli Mayor Mustafa Sarıgül's return to the Republican People's Party (CHP) ended today with a flamboyant ceremony at the party headquarters in Ankara.

Over 40,000 supporters of the Turkish Movement for Change (TDH), founded by Sarıgül in 2008, participated in the event, which had the appearance of an improvised rally.

The iconic politician, long tipped as the main opposition's candidate for the Istanbul mayoralty and considered the only names who can garner the necessary votes to defeat any potential candidate from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was handed his CHP pin by party head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

"Being a CHP member is not easy. It means not being unfair, believing in gender equality, working for the people. It means fighting against the patriarchs," Sarıgül told the crowd.

Despite his candidacy for CHP in the coming March 2014 local elections still not confirmed, Sarıgül vowed to bring "Istanbul's key" to Kılıçdaroğlu.

"We are the ones who will raise Istanbul back onto its feet and make it a respected world brand. We will make it. You will see that Istanbul will get back its splendor," he added. 

He also called on AKP supporters to vote for the CHP. "Do you want change? Here is the CHP. I call particularly to the young people, come and let's make the change together. I call to my brothers who voted for the AKP, come and give your vote to the party who gave you the right to vote," Sarıgül said.

The popular mayor of one of Istanbul's busiest and most vibrant districts also used the occasion to praise the Gezi protesters. "They have proclaimed their democratic and freedom-based stance to the whole world. They say that they want more than what one person deigned to give them. I tell them: Don't be afraid. Now there is a more beautiful CHP with the Turkish Movement for Change," he said.

Mayor of Şişli since 1999, Sarıgül was controversially expelled from the CHP after running for the party's leadership against the then-chairman Deniz Baykal. Once seen as the flag-bearer CHP's progressive wing, Sarıgül is reportedly not favored by a number of prominent traditionalist members of the party and will still face tough opposition before securing his Istanbul candidacy.

However, the party played the song "Ölesiye Özledim Seni" (I Missed You to Death) while waiting for Sarıgül at today's event, before switching to the tune "Gücüne Güç Katmaya Geldik" (We Came to Add strength to Your Strength) when Sarıgül appeared hand in hand with Kılıçdaroğlu.

The CHP head had said a day earlier that "Sarıgül is of course the cure for Istanbul," repeating the TDH's slogan for its protégé. However, Kılıçdaroğlu also underlined that Sarıgül's candidacy was still not sealed yet.

CHP Deputy Chairman and former Istanbul Branch Head Gürsel Tekin and former Gazaintep Mayor Celal Doğan are among those who have officially announced that they will seek nomination as the party's Istanbul candidate.