CHP’s Istanbul congress marred by invalid votes

CHP’s Istanbul congress marred by invalid votes

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
CHP’s Istanbul congress marred by invalid votes

Main opposition Republican People’s Party’s Istanbul provincial head Oğuz Kaan Salıcı speaks ahead of the voting in the congress. AA photo

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) elected its new Istanbul provincial head yesterday in an election marred by invalid votes.

Oğuz Kaan Salıcı, who received the tacit support of CHP chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, was elected to the post with the support of 282 provincial delegates against his rival Ali Özcan, who received 158 votes, while the unusually high number of invalid votes – 184 out of the total 638 – raised eyebrows.
The number of invalid votes raised doubts among Salıcı’s opponents, and an Istanbul provincial delegate who asked to remain anonymous told the Hürriyet Daily News that the situation was “weird.”
But Salıcı said the invalid votes might be the result of “scrutiny of the counting process.”

A provincial administration was elected through an open list for the first time within the CHP at the Istanbul congress. In the open list system, every delegate votes individually for candidates; for example they cast 40 votes to elect the 40-member administration, as opposed to “bloc list” system, in which the delegates vote for a list instead of individuals.

Salıcı said the open list practice set a good example for all provincial branches of the CHP, but the number of invalid votes might be a result of it. “The lists were long, and the delegates are not used to voting with this system,” Salıcı told reporters, recalling that a total of 964 candidates were running for a total of 219 available posts, including 170 convention delegates and 40 provincial executives.

Intra-party debate

The main opposition party’s Istanbul congress sparked an intra-party debate for a month, resulting in deputy chair Gürsel Tekin’s resignation. Tekin previously led the CHP’s Istanbul branch and was widely credited for the party’s rising popularity in Turkey’s biggest province.

Tekin resigned from his post, reportedly because his fellow deputy chairs Nihat Matkap and Erdoğan Toprak bypassed him to interfere in CHP affairs in Istanbul. Tekin has openly criticized Salıcı for favoring certain cliques within the party.

At the congress, Kılıçdaroğlu came up on stage with the two candidates and did not vote on the grounds that it would violate his neutrality; however, Salıcı is reportedly supported by the CHP headquarters.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Salıcı said they left all intra-party debates behind starting with the congress.

“The CHP Istanbul branch has given a clear-cut [positive] answer to the chairman’s vision of change. We want this process to continue and lead the CHP to power,” Salıcı said.

 “Intra-party debates set our agenda up to now. From now on, the CHP Istanbul branch will deal with the [ruling] Justice and Development Party [AKP] and its wrongdoings.”

The CHP’s main objective for the 2014 local elections is to take over the post of Istanbul mayor, which is seen as the key city to win the further general elections. Salıcı is expected to lead the main opposition party’s Istanbul branch in the local elections.