‘Polls cannot launder corruption allegations’
The local elections on March 30 turned out to be a disappointment for Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
The CHP had shown popular, ambitious figures in the two big cities of Turkey: Mustafa Sarıgül in Istanbul and Mansur Yavaş in Ankara. Sarıgül could not close the 7 percent gap between him and the incumbent Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) Mayor Kadir Topbaş; the gap has increased by nearly 2 points. In Ankara, Yavaş is still in a fierce race with the incumbent AK Parti Mayor Melih Gökçek; in a rare case in Turkish politics, the vote count in Ankara was not completed the same day and there is still tension between the supporters of the two parties amid a shower of fraud claims and complaints.
During a telephone interview on April 1 with the Hürriyet Daily News, Kılıçdaroğlu said the CHP has increased its overall votes, but he cannot call it a success. “We have set up a mission to find out what we have done wrong” he said. The CHP headquarters in Ankara is now focused on two missions. The first is the effort to list the fraud claims and correct them. “We have mobilized all our people,” says Kılıçdaroğlu. The second is to find the reasons why the party failed again; whether it was the theme of the campaign, picking up the right names for candidates or lack of effort by the party structure in its headquarters and in its constituencies. It’s damage control, in a way.
“We’ll find it and try not to repeat the mistakes,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, “But what is relevant to me was winning mayor positions [for the party], not to find the excuses for missing them.”
Kılıçdaroğlu was so disappointed and upset with the results that he refrained to say anything to the press on election night.
The next day, he dismissed a “resignation” claim from Prime Minsiter Tayyip Erdoğan, saying it was Erdoğan who should have resigned far before the elections because of heavy corruption allegations, as in the case of western democracies. “Our struggle with him is just beginning” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu complains that Erdoğan has managed to keep his vote loss low by telling people the corruption allegations were not true and a part of a plot against government. “His election performance is a success under the given circumstances,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, “I acknowledge that. But now the prime minister is trying to make everyone forget the corruption allegations because he received a majority of the votes. That is not going to happen. We will not let them be forgotten. Polls cannot launder corruption claims, only independent courts can say that. That is why I said this was just the beginning.”
As of yesterday, the main opposition party was in a mood of healing the wounds to move on.
It seems that the opposition, not just the government, will lose no time for another round of fights for the presidential elections in August as soon as they get over the locals and the CHP is likely to keep the corruption claims issue high in the presidentials as well.