Main opposition CHP’s candidate choices for local elections trigger resignations

Main opposition CHP’s candidate choices for local elections trigger resignations

Main opposition CHP’s candidate choices for local elections trigger resignations

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (L) is seen at his party’s ceremony in the southern province of Antalya province while introducing his party’s candidates for the local elections. AA Photo

Stirring controversy even before the official announcement, the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) choices for its candidates in the Thrace region have already led to resignations, one at the parliamentary level and another at the local administration level.

The CHP nominated potential replacements for the party’s incumbent mayors in European Turkey, namely, MP Recep Gürkan in Edirne, MP Mehmet Siyam Kesimoğlu in Kırklareli and Kadir Albayrak in Tekirdağ.

But hours after the nominations were reported Feb. 10, CHP Kırklareli deputy Turgut Dibek announced his resignation from the party in a strongly worded resignation letter sent to the party headquarters.

“Although our people had full confidence in our current mayor, the fact that this point was not taken into consideration has led to a huge reaction by the people of Kırklareli,” Dibek said. 

He added that as he was not informed of the nomination by the party administration at any stage of the process, he had not been able to express his unease to Kılıçdaroğlu and fellow colleagues at the party. 

At the same time as Dibek was filing his resignation, in Edirne, current Edirne Mayor Hamdi Sedefçi announced his resignation at a press conference. 

While making its decision on the candidate for Edirne, the CHP headquarters ignored the results of a recent survey that the party itself conducted, Sedefçi said, adding that “Edirne’s people would give the best answer to those who named a candidate by ignoring them.” 

Sedefçi now plans to join and run for the Democratic Left Party (DSP).

The CHP had named 900 mayoral candidates around Turkey for the upcoming March 30 local elections, and named 300 more candidates at its latest meeting. The authority to name the final 200 mayoral candidacies, including the Çekmeköy and Kadıköy districts in Istanbul, has been delegated to the Central Executive Board (MYK), Anadolu Agency reported.

The latest nominations, including key metropolitan districts such as Çankaya in Ankara and Beyoğlu in Istanbul, were made at a marathon 13-hour meeting that ended early yesterday morning.


Meanwhile, Alper Taşdelen, the son of Doğan Taşdelen, Çankaya’s mayor between 1989 and 1999 from the now-defunct Social Democratic People’s Party (SHP), has been named as the candidate for Çankaya, triggering reactions from CHP supporters who gathered in front of the party headquarters late on Feb. 9 to protest the decision, which was leaked from the ongoing meeting, daily Radikal reported. 

Çankaya, a central middle-class neighborhood of the capital city, is a CHP stronghold. 

The protests failed to alter the party’s decision, although some assembly members voiced support for the candidacy of current Çankaya Mayor Bülent Tanık.

The assembly, meanwhile, decided to give the mayoral candidacy for Ankara’s Yenimahalle district to the CHP incumbent, Fethi Yaşar.

Another group of CHP supporters who came from Istanbul also demonstrated in front of the headquarters to voice their reaction against the party’s candidates in the Istanbul districts of Sancaktepe and Maltepe.

Lengthy consultations for Istanbul districts

According to Anadolu’s report, lengthy discussions were held about candidacies in Istanbul’s districts. As no consensus could be reached for Bakırköy, Beşiktaş, Kadıköy and Çekmeköy, the assembly took a break, while party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, members of the Local Elections Candidate Nomination Commission, party deputy chairs Gürsel Tekin and Erdoğan Toprak and Istanbul provincial chair Oğuz Kaan Salıcı conducted a two-hour meeting.

The assembly subsequently continued its meeting, and the candidates for Istanbul’s districts were named via a secret vote at around 5 a.m., Anadolu said.

Accordingly, Aylin Kotil, who gained popularity in July 2013 by staging a 19-day march from Istanbul to Ankara to protest the 10 percent election threshold, was named as the CHP’s candidate for Beyoğlu. Kotil is also the former spouse of current Şişli Mayor Mustafa Sarıgül, who is the CHP’s mayoral candidate for Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.

Murat Hazinedar was nominated for Beşiktaş, currently held by CHP’s İsmail Ünal, while Bülent Kerimoğlu was nominated for Bakırköy, which is currently run by the CHP’s Ateş Ünal Erzen.

In İzmir, another stronghold of the CHP, former İzmir Bar Association President Sema Pektaş will run in the Konak district instead of the CHP’s current mayor Hakan Tartan. Levent Piriştina, the son of Ahmet Piriştina, a former mayor of İzmir who passed away in 2004, will run in the Buca district instead of the current CHP Mayor Ercan Tati.