Main opposition CHP strives for new track
Göksel Bozkurt / Hüseyin Hayatsever ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Main opposition CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu vows not to bow down in the face of intra-party fighting, while leading party rebel and CHP deputy İsa Gök challenges him by attempting to declare the convention unlawful. DAILY NEWS photos, Selahattin SÖNMEZMain opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu passed a crucial test and strengthened his grip over the Republican People’s Party (CHP) yesterday as party delegates gave him a de facto vote of confidence in a stormy extraordinary convention, opening the way for him put into practice what he calls “the new CHP.”
Although the convention, marred by occasional scuffles and tension, dealt a serious blow to the intra-party opposition, the dissidents fought hard, showing that they would not go down easily. Dissident leaders Önder Sav, the former secretary-general, and Deniz Baykal, the party’s former head, shunned the convention.
Triumphant against the party’s old-guard veterans, Kılıçdaroğlu stood by his discourse of a “new CHP” while dismissing criticism of an ideological shift.
While the dissidents huddled at a hotel, İsa Gök arrived as their representative in the convention hall to submit a formal objection. His appearance provoked the delegates and led to scuffles and booing. “I want you to be confident that no one can stop our march with the people. A CHP that has embraced democracy and freedom will be always up on its feet,” Kılıçdaroğlu said amid the fuss.
Challenge to dissidents
“No one has the right to break peace at this convention. They demanded statutes [amendments], here are the statutes. If you want [a chairmanship] election, we will hold it, too,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Gök said only 380 of the 1,200 delegates signed the attendance book and that the remaining signatures were forged. The convention board retorted with an announcement that 948 delegates had signed in, dismissing his petition.
Leaving the hall amid jeers and plastic bottles flying at him, Gök said: “I was violently forced to leave. They tore my jacket. Those who are not party members have usurped the party.”
Soon afterwards, a tough-talking Sav held a press conference at the dissidents’ hotel, warning the party leadership that “the boomerang of illegal action will one day return to hit them” and that he would not allow the party to be “pillaged” by newcomers. “We are the landlords and they are the guests,” he said, as his loyalists chanted “Down with Kemal.”
“Those who want to know more about the new CHP should look at the amendments on the party statute,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, underlining that it would devote more emphasis to women and youth as well as the oppressed. No political party has ever expressed an intention to democratize its party statutes other than the CHP, Kılıçdaroğlu said. “We have begun democratization of Turkey from the CHP. The new CHP will always push for more democracy and freedoms.”
Addressing the crowd of roughly 20,000 party members, Kılıçdaroğlu said the CHP would not waste its energy on intra-party struggles after amending the statutes, which, he said, would become the most democratic in Turkey.
Promising more democracy, rule of law and justice for the country if he comes to power, he urged the government to abolish special-authority courts and resolve the problem of lengthy pre-trial detentions. “The lawmakers who were elected by the will of the people must not remain behind bars. Let’s abolish all anti-democratic laws that are products of the Sept. 12  coup. Let’s abolish the election threshold and let’s create an independent judiciary. This is the CHP’s democracy appeal. Turkey will be normalized if we accomplish this,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, also calling for resistance to “the post-modern dictatorship” of the ruling party.