Inner-CHP dissidents call for leadership election
ANKARAMain opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Muharrem İnce, who had in the past challenged party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, has once again called for an extraordinary general assembly to hold a leadership election.
“This general assembly should be named the ‘presidential election assembly,’” said İnce, flanked by 13 other CHP deputies at a press briefing in parliament on May 5.
He was referring to the election scheduled for 2019, when Turkey’s first executive presidential election will be held, following the narrow approval of a systemic change in the recent constitutional referendum.
İnce praised the CHP’s campaign for a “no” vote in the referendum, which won 48.6 percent of the vote. He said both the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Supreme Election Board (YSK) “stole the votes,” while also criticizing his own party for not keeping records of the votes without official stamps, which were controversially considered valid by the YSK.
The CHP should change its “program, party bylaws, language, discourse and understanding of governance,” İnce said, adding that the party should not be aiming to increase its votes to 30 percent from the current 25 percent, but look to win more than 50 percent.
He also stressed that the best path to a general assembly would be with a call by party leader Kılıçdaroğlu himself.
İnce’s move comes at a time when a fresh debate has stirred within the CHP. Deniz Baykal, a lawmaker and a former leader, recently urged Kılıçdaroğlu to commence a process to determine the party’s presidential candidate, saying “either be the candidate yourself or step aside.”
İnce said the CHP must fight against “internalizing the spirit of defeat.”
“This is our call: Do not exhaust our party, our country. Do not insist on holding just a regular general assembly, letting the debate grow for another eight months. Do not try to obscure the demand for change by leaving things to time,” he added.
Kılıçdaroğlu slammed dissident voices within the CHP during an interview with private broadcaster NTV late on May 3.
“Nobody should exceed the level of criticism and say ‘I can say whatever I want publicly.’ I will show the door to whoever harms the party. It is that simple,” he said.
Fikri Sağlar, another CHP lawmaker, had on April 2 criticized Kılıçdaroğlu for “fighting against a one-man regime [in the referendum] but becoming a ‘one man’ in his party.”
Sağlar was subsequently referred to the CHP’s disciplinary board over these remarks.