Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu re-elected as Turkey’s main opposition CHP chair
Voting was held in the capital, Ankara, at the party’s 36th ordinary congress chaired by Yılmaz Büyükerşen, mayor of the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir.
Kılıçaroğlu won 790 votes while his main challenger, Muharrem İnce, a deputy from northwestern province of Yalova, secured 447 votes. Thirteen delegates abstained from voting.
CHP delegates convened earlier on Feb. 3 to elect party’s new leader.
İnce had run for the leadership against Kılıçdaroğlu in the party’s 2014 congress, in which 740 delegates voted for Kılıçdaroğlu and 415 for İnce.
Earlier in the day, confusion broke out in the congress as 49 delegates backed both Kılıçdaroğlu and İnce, putting İnce’s nomination at risk.
Officials from the CHP stated that Kılıçdaroğlu asked for the 49 signatures to be counted for İnce, criticizing the nomination process during his speech at the congress.
İnce, however, said the CHP administration is trying to undermine support for him with such an argument.
“I don’t want multiple votes, I want the free will of the voters,” he said.
Former Istanbul Bar Association head Ümit Kocasakal and Ömer Faruk Eminağaoğlu, the former head of the Judges and Prosecutors Association (YARSAV), had also announced their candidacies for the party chairmanship but were not able to collect the required number of signatures.
At the convention, delegates are due on Feb. 4 to select the party’s new cadres, including the Party Assembly.
“I hope our convention will take place in a calm manner. There are some candidates for the leadership but this process will be clarified tomorrow [on Feb. 3]. There could be some provocative acts to discredit our convention but we will never allow it,” CHP Deputy Chair Tekin Bingöl told reporters on Feb. 2, saying all who want to run for the party management will “enjoy the CHP’s well-established democratic culture.”
“Elections will be finalized with the free will of our 1,266 delegates. This convention will pave the way for the CHP to run for government in the coming period,” Bingöl added.
New term a challenge: Kılıçdaroğlu
After his reelection as leader, Kılıçdaroğlu said his new term would not be easy.
“Our struggle is the struggle of 80 million, the struggle for Turkey’s future. We have to advance democracy. This is our main duty and we owe it to this nation,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu pointed the finger at the government for leading the country to a point where many people are now questioning the future of the country.
“I will give you the guarantee of peace on this land,” he said, pledging prosperity for Turkey.
Also speaking after the vote, defeated candidate İnce said he would continue the “righteous struggle.”
“We are present on the street, in the [party] organization, in thge grassroots, in the hearts,” he posted in his Twitter account on Feb. 4.