Election defeat shakes CHP as dissidents demand Kılıçdaroğlu’s resignation
Emine Ülker Tarhan called on Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to hold an extraordinary convention during a press statement on Aug. 12 in Ankara. DAILY NEWS PhotoThe Republican People’s Party (CHP) was shaken yesterday as party dissidents called on Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to resign and hold an extraordinary convention in protest at the presidential election results in which the party leadership nominated a conservative elitist instead of a social democrat figure for the post.
“This understanding of opposition has come to an end. The CHP has tried to be like others and has lost. From now on, it will either draw a new road map or continue to deceive itself. Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu and his team should cease accusing voters and should display virtue by withdrawing from their positions and go to a convention,” Emine Ülker Tarhan, a CHP deputy, said at a press conference Aug. 12 with the participation of other dissident deputies.
Tarhan was accompanied by five other deputies known for their opposition to the party leadership on the grounds that he had taken the party away from its fundamental pillars. Kılıçdaroğlu’s decision to nominate Professor Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu as the joint candidate with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) drew strong reaction from within the party on the basis that the former secretary-general of Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) did not reflect CHP values. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won the elections with 51.65 percent of the vote. İhsanoğlu, won 38.57 percent of the vote, receiving fewer votes than the sum of the CHP and MHP votes from the March 30 local elections.
Tarhan strongly accused Kılıçdaroğlu of nominating what she described as a conservative elitist instead of someone representing the values and principles the CHP carries. “Because of this strategy, the presidential elections could not be taken to the second round,” she said.
Tarhan called on delegates at a prospective convention to consider the party’s future on the eve of the 2015 parliamentary elections, noting that it would be a fight for survival, while also imploring them to take responsibility for putting the CHP back on the path to power.
Toprak: Demand to hold convention a natural right
The first reaction to the call came from deputy leader of the CHP, Erdoğan Toprak, who said holding an extraordinary convention required the fulfillment of certain conditions outlined in the party’s internal regulations.
“Demanding an extraordinary convention is the most natural right. Conditions for holding a convention are cited in our internal regulations. We’ll hold the convention if we are notified about the number of delegates demanding a convention,” Toprak told Anadolu Agency.
To convene an extraordinary convention, the dissidents must obtain the signatures of at least half the number of the 1,247 delegates that would be appointed to the gathering, although observers said it would be difficult to reach that many signatures.
Toprak also said there was no need to hold a convention as İhsanoğlu was the right choice but that they had been forced to compete against a prime minister who mobilized all state resources to win an unfair competition.
Kılıçdaroğlu was set to chair a Central Decision-making and Executive Body (MKYK) meeting Aug. 12 during which he would evaluate the results with his party colleagues.
Kılıçdaroğlu: I would respect calls
In an interview with daily Hürriyet before the calls for his resignation, Kılıçdaroğlu said he would respect any call to hold an extraordinary party convention following the results of the presidential elections.
“This result has not started a debate about the leadership in the CHP. I would be glad if it starts. Candidates come up and a democratic race takes place. If a call is made for a convention, I would also respect that,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in an interview before his party’s Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting scheduled for Aug. 13.
Kılıçdaroğlu echoed MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli who earlier argued that 5 million voters who did not vote would bear the responsibility for any negative political developments in the country’s future.
“Vacationers didn’t go to the ballot boxes. They didn’t want to sacrifice their comfort,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. He added that surveys exaggerated the potential vote that President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would receive. Assuming Erdoğan would be elected anyway, both opposition and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters might not have gone to the ballot boxes, he said.