CHP: Hard to stand against religious, ethnic-based politics

CHP: Hard to stand against religious, ethnic-based politics

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has put an end to speculation over the timing of next year’s parliamentary elections. “They will be held on time,” he said, adding that this would reflect the normalcy of state affairs in the country. That means the elections will probably be held on June 7, 2015, as the mandate of the current Parliament ends on June 12. So, there are slightly more than six months to go until the elections and all parties have already begun works to plan their pre-election campaigns.

Our long conversation with Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and other top party officials on Wednesday revealed how the main opposition party is looking at the upcoming elections and outlining its objective and challenges. Some recent surveys have indicated a four point decrease in the votes of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), moving it down to the 40 percent margin, according to CHP officials. “One of the most important reasons is the ability of Ahmet Davutoğlu to replace Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as prime minister. He is unable to get the people’s approval as leader to the extent he was hoping. Another reason is the ongoing debate over the presidential palace,” officials stressed. The same surveys point out a small increase in the CHP’s votes, but not enough to bring it to power.

“There is no other party that has solutions to the country’s fundamental problems apart from the CHP. Our job is to deliver this to the masses. If we cannot do it, this would be down to our own ineptitude. Take the peace process; we have issued a 17-article plan for resolving the problem. Take unemployment; there is no any other political party that could introduce a sound solution to solve this. Take poverty; I haven’t heard anything better than the family insurance program policy that we introduced,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

The CHP has long been criticized for not being able to say anything new on Turkey’s top problems and instead just besmirching the ruling party’s policies, he added, while speaking about the challenges they face. “What we say, however, is that we are of course saying new things, but we have difficulties in making them known to the people. It’s of course very hard to do politics against religious and ethnic-based politics. People give credit to what we say and to what we propose for resolving Turkey’s major problems, but when we ask whether they will vote for us they reply, ‘They will vote for those who pray.’ According to our laws, doing politics through religion is prohibited, but it is freely implemented in Turkey. When you oppose this, they call you irreligious. How will we break this circle?” he said.

Although he seemed pessimistic, Kılıçdaroğlu underlined that his party was determined to break this vicious circle in the upcoming elections. Foreign policy, the economy, unemployment, poverty, and all social issues will be at the top of the CHP’s pre-election campaign, he said, adding that they will place a special emphasis on education. “The education policies of this government are the worst. We are working on how we can propose an education model to fix the damage caused by this government,” he said.

The party will try to explain the economic downfall caused by the AKP, and the CHP’s formula to fix it, in a very simple language to communicate with ordinary folk. “The world is not the same world as the 1960s and 70s. Ideological differences, right or left, no longer count. That obliges us to abandon class-based approaches, in favor of the advantage of social necessities. That’s why we want to base our politics on [the needs of] families, individuals and children,” Kılıçdaroğlu stressed.    

One important question asked the CHP head was whether his election campaign would target President Erdoğan or Prime Minister Davutoğlu. “I think we’ll pursue a parallel election campaign,” he said. “If Davutoğlu manages to prove himself as the prime minister, we will take him out of our target list. But he never will be able to do this.”