A hundred thousand people in the CHP
Perihan Sarı, who has a labor inspector background, is a graduate of a faculty of political sciences. She has also worked for the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK) for some time is now and is the deputy-chair in the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in charge of training.
Upon the suggestion of CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, she has prepared a training program, mainly for candidates running for office in metropolitan municipalities, provinces and districts, as well as for city council memberships. The training seminars that started last June ran until December.
In those seminars, the candidates for nomination were taught the CHP’s philosophy, social democratic local governance, local government model, urban transformation and public relations. Those who are delivering the training are former and current deputies, former mayors, members of the CHP Party Assembly and academia.
A hundred thousand people participated in these seminars, held at certain centers throughout the country. Such an operation before an election is a record. Regarding candidates for nomination, 11,400 people receive training. Today, half of these are running for office.
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) is also conducting similar training seminars, but there is a difference. In these seminars, the AKP is training staff for itself. The CHP members are being prepared for the positions they are to be elected to. This is the quality-quantity difference between the two parties.
Polling center training
The trainings are not only for candidates for nomination. There is another seminar that may determine all our fate: ballot box (polling station) training.
Those who will be working in polling stations are also being trained for any irregularities that might occur at the polling station/center, such as the disappearance of votes, the stealing of boxes, rigging in vote counting and sudden blackouts. They are being taught how they should protect the ballot boxes.
For the first time, the CHP is conducting such a programmed, systematic and long-term effort during the phase of determining the candidates. Also added to this are the trend surveys and public surveys.
Kılıçdaroğlu and patience
It is a marathon of nearly 24 hours. Everyone who is a member of the CHP’s Central Executive Board (MYK) and Party Assembly express their opinions very openly during the process of determining mayoral candidates. Sometimes people object, sometimes resist, but despite this, Kılıçdaroğlu listens to everybody with patience and tolerance. This is inner party democracy. This is why talks last long and are painful.
It is possible, as others do, to cut it short and say, “This is who I chose.” You silence everybody – whatever the leader says, everybody says “Yes, sir.” Then the talks do not last very long and they are never “painful.” Even though the talks at the CHP were almost 24 hours non-stop, Kılıçdaroğlu was neither nervous, nor did he cut anybody’s sentence short.
He wanted the candidates to possess these features: “They should be young, in good relationships with the party organization and be able to integrate with people.”
Insurgence in the CHP
Anyone who says, “I do not want this candidate” in the CHP staged a small insurgency. He either attempted to raid the party building (headquarters, provincial or district center) or resigned.
The candidate may be objectionable, he or she may be wrong. Instead of explaining this in a proper way, to side with those who have not been elected as candidates does not accord with the party’s discipline. In no other party, there is such a fuss.
On the other hand, if there is a candidate who is not suitable for whatever reason, the best thing to do is to document this and then follow up.
Covering up step by step
The travel ban and the judicial control imposed on those who are being investigated without detention in the scope of the Dec. 17 graft probe are being removed.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) first defined these claims as the parallel state’s trick.
Now, the AKP is trying to cool down the bribery claims. Those who are under arrest will probably be released soon and they will answer for their deeds at the ballot box.
Yalçın Doğan is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on Feb 12. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.