As the CHP goes to congress

As the CHP goes to congress

As expected, the results of the Nov.1 election started the congress debates for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

And that’s normal. No matter how much the fate of this election was determined by Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), it was clear that the outcome would most affect the CHP.

Had the CHP reached 30 percent after the elections, we would not have witnessed these debates.

Now what is important is for the CHP to proceed with these two-three months without huge conflicts and maintain the success it registered in the course of these past two years in avoiding to give the image of a party constantly bickering.

On the contrary, the CHP must finish this process by producing hope. 

Kılıçdaroğlu’s promises

The CHP suspended the normal congress process due to the Nov. 1 elections. Yet 12 provinces had concluded their congresses. In the remaining provinces, one-third of the congresses on the district level were concluded. There were congresses done even on Sunday and congresses in three provinces will be concluded this month. The processes in all provinces and districts will be finished before New Year’s Eve.

Some members, including Umut Oran, who is among the candidates to lead the party, asked for an extraordinary congress. But it is clear that due to the party’s rules it will be difficult to hold an extraordinary congress, even if the necessary number of signatures is gathered.

The reason why the opposition wants an extraordinary congress stems from the probability that the party’s headquarters might use its influence over the newly-elected delegates.

I have talked about this issue to the CHP administration. But let me just tell what the party’s leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, said. 

He openly promised that there will not be a single intervention in the congresses. He did not limit himself to that and said, “In the case of a slightest complaint, even for one single delegate, I will do what is necessary.”

Asking that no one should doubt his promises, Kılıçdaroğlu looks resolved to create all the necessary conditions for a democratic race. 

“I have warned all my friends in absolute terms that they should not make harsh statements against any candidate [and] avoid rude rhetoric,” Kılıçdaroğlu told me.

Working against other candidates from behind closed doors while talking about democracy and freedom of speech is an old and bad habit according to Kılıçdaroğlu, who said that he will definitely take the necessary measures to avoid that.

He is however against Oran’s suggestion that candidates should have their debates in front of TV cameras.

He believes that this will pull the CHP into internal conflicts. He rather advised another way:

“The congresses in provinces and districts will continue. Every candidate should use inter-party mechanisms; all should speak out, tell their principles, what they think and how they will increase the party’s votes in those congresses addressing our delegates directly. Let no one doubt that I will keep that way open till the end.”

Let me say that Kılıçdaroğlu said he would do all he can to finish this process without major contentions. 

One needs to emphasize that while Turkey’s huge problems wait to be solved, the country’s biggest opposition party should spend the next four years with a perspective that looks to the future and away from bickering.