Meaningless fight in the CHP

Meaningless fight in the CHP

After the April 16 referendum on constitutional amendments, while it was being debated whether or not the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) would be able to consolidate the “No” votes, a meaningless fight erupted within the party. 

It looks like former CHP chair Deniz Baykal’s statement - saying a party convention should be held to determine a candidate if current CHP head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is not planning to be a candidate in the 2019 presidential election - was the first spark. But in fact Baykal was not wrong. 

In 2019, Turkey will not be holding a referendum. We will be electing the president of the presidential system. The winner of this election needs 50.01 percent of the vote to run the country alone for the next five years. 

It may be possible to unite the different segments who voted “No” in the referendum under a kind of “umbrella candidate,” but the realities of politics do not give much hope for this.

The target should not be maintaining the 49 percent won in the referendum but rather winning the 50.01 percent. One of the candidates in the election is already apparent. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has a very organized political party, and this party’s ideology has deep social roots. 

If the vote goes to a second round, the run-off candidate would most likely be the CHP’s candidate. For this reason, the troubled situation that the CHP is currently in is significant. 

The CHP, with its current texture and ideology, looks something like an ostrich. It is neither a bird nor a camel. It is not really a social democratic party. It is also not really a left-wing party. It is also not a Kemalist party. 

The CHP cannot represent any one of these lines properly, and it cannot achieve anything by trying to represent all of them simultaneously. Its projection in society is certainly not enough to win the 50.01 percent of the votes. 

This situation will persist regardless of individuals or possible candidates. This fact will not change regardless of whether Kılıçdaroğlu or someone else is chosen as the candidate to run for the presidency in 2019. 

For this reason, as Baykal said, a party convention should be called. This convention should work not just to determine the new owner of the little shop, but to try to upgrade the party in a line required by the current times in Turkey. 

The referendum showed that the urban, well-educated segments of Turkish society have a serious “democracy and freedom” sensitivity. However, unless this sensitivity is supported with a realistic economic vision and social policies, it is not something that will be able to have much electoral meaning. 

What the CHP needs is a party convention where a new policy, embracing wide segments, would be determined. It should at the same time be a convention that would enable the renewal of all party organs and change the party statute to allow more democratic participation. This policy should establish the widest possible participation of party members, from the grassroots to the top. 

Would this be desired by the current CHP administration? Do the dissenters within the party have such a demand? 

Looking at the style of the fight currently ongoing, I cannot come up with an affirmative answer to either question. 

Where to trust? 

Schoolteacher Kumru Konak was living in a building adjacent to an illegal construction project in the eastern province of Hakkari. The construction vehicle crashed through the walls of her home, and she was unable to breath for a long time because of the dust and grout filling her lungs. She ended up lapsing into a vegetative state. 

Because they could not pay the necessary case fee to open a compensation case, her family asked for judicial assistance from the court. But the court rejected this demand on the grounds that her brother has a job and can therefore pay for her treatment. 

In Istanbul’s Beykoz district, a little over two years ago, three women lost their lives after a tree collapsed. A case was opened against five civil servants concerning this incident. The court ruled that the defendants could not have predicted that the tree would fall and the civil servants were acquitted.

Also in Istanbul, the police officer who shot and killed Uğur Kurt - around three years ago, while Kurt was waiting in the courtyard of a cemevi, an Alevi worship house – was recently fined 12,100 Turkish Liras. The court did not take into consideration the investigation report that said the officer did not use his gun according to the regulations. 

One year ago, university student Şule Dere died when a municipal earth-moving truck hit her while she was walking. No case has been opened yet because the Istanbul Governor’s Office did not allow the civil servants to be tried. 

Most recently, in Antalya, the father of a young girl who lost a leg could not afford the necessary physiotherapy. His case was rejected. When this was reported in the news, President Erdoğan intervened and the child ended up accessing free treatment. The Antalya chief prosecutor’s office has now also asked the father to re-open the case.  

Do we need an incident to be a news story, so that the president can intervene, for something to get done?

 Should we have to wait for the president to be moved in order for the rights of citizens to be protected? 

In cases about the rights of citizens, especially if they are to be protected against the state, you cannot fully trust either the administration or the courts. 

Does it give you confidence to be the citizen of such a country?