Lack of idea-focused competition in CHP

Lack of idea-focused competition in CHP

Main opposition party Republican People’s Party (CHP) is holding a congress on Feb. 26 totally allocated to amendments in its statute. This congress is organized by Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in his capacity as the party leader. 

This is a development outside the demand of the inner party opposition that had asked for an extraordinary congress. Kılıçdaroğlu opted for this because he found the opposition’s agenda proposals restricting. He believes the congress on Feb. 26 will also meet the opposition’s demand. 

Even though Kılıçdaroğlu believes so, if the opposition insists on its demand, then the CHP will have to convene another congress during the month of March; but it looks very difficult for the number of participating delegates to reach the required absolute majority to make any decision. 

Whether or not the opposition will insist on its demand will reveal if their intention is to change the CHP statute or the party’s administration. 

Should have convened long ago 

It is true that this congress should have convened not after the opposition collected signatures, but long ago with the decision of the administration; because Kılıçdaroğlu, on the day he was elected, had promised “to make Turkey’s most democratic statute.” 

If he hadn’t waited until today to keep his promise, the CHP could’ve made a significant difference compared with other political parties. 

This was an opportunity missed, one should say, and let’s hope that this congress, as Kılıçdaroğlu has said, will actually go by in an atmosphere of a “democracy festival.” 

As long as the CHP can achieve this, then it can start its struggle that would enable it to overcome those judicial issues that have entangled it and also those major troubles waiting ahead of it. As a matter of fact, each CHP congress has convened with such expectations; but the result is obvious. 

There are anecdotes and jokes remembered from the past that emphasize the “blaming the other” and “never being satisfied” features of the inner party organization. 

 Maybe “blaming the other” is no longer a popular characteristic in the CHP nowadays, but it is also true that one cannot say that top administrators in its headquarters are working in perfect harmony, or that nobody loses time with policies of wear and tear. 

Also, this is the picture despite the fact that Kýlýçdaroðlu has changed his administration four times. 

Dysfunctional think tanks 

This problem in the CHP stems from the heritage of the past 20 years. Ideological causes have been occupied by personal disagreements, personal loyalties. 

And this has brought the perception of “My man/your man” instead of “democratic competition.” 
Nowadays, delegate elections are being carried out. Despite Kýlýçdaroðlu’s entire discourse, it is seen that there are still, even though very few, neighborhoods where ballot boxes have not been put in - because the aim is not to reflect the choice of the grassroots, but to make a delegate out of the preferred name. 

This is related to losing the ideology, destroying thought. If competition is focused on ideas, then both personal preferences would be left behind and also by way of strong groups that control each other, the party would gain much more dynamism. 

Remember, it was the social democrats who introduced think tanks to Turkey by founding them, but these institutions today are almost dysfunctional.

Some believe the CHP that comes from the Turkish revolutionaries of the Independence War era, called the “Kuvayi Milliye” tradition cannot be social democrats. 

However, that tradition carries an anti-imperialist essence; and the success anti-imperialist political parties have achieved in South America is crystal clear. Institutions that provide the intellectual infrastructure of all these are the social democrat think tanks that have been presumed as it they didn’t exist in the past 20 years. 

The assumption that they were non-existent has caused those university veins that used to feed social democracy to be cut.

Şükrü Küçükşahin is a columnist for the daily Hürriyet in which this piece appeared on Jan. 30. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.