Story of a convention: Feast of Democracy and Fire of Anatolia

Story of a convention: Feast of Democracy and Fire of Anatolia

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Story of a convention: Feast of Democracy and Fire of Anatolia

A Republican People’s Party supporter carries a poster of leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

Moments before Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), took the stage to address thousands of his party fellows during the party’s extraordinary convention yesterday, his guards were throwing a party dissident out of the hall amid a mass protest against the rebel.

İsa Gök, the right arm of both former leader, Deniz Baykal, and former head of the CHP’s politburo, Önder Sav, tried to prove that the convention was unlawful and that the signatures collected from delegates were fake.

Kılıçdaroğlu lost his temper and banged his fist on the table. “I will not allow anybody to ruin our convention, our feast of democracy,” he said. “History will not forgive those who try to stop the long march of the CHP and Turkey for democracy.”

Collecting 948 delegates for the convention and changing the internal regulations of the party is a success one should count to Kılıçdaroğlu’s credit. Sunday’s convention cemented his in-house power, making life much more difficult for the Baykal-Sav duo and clearing a very important hurdle in his way to democratizing the party, which he called “the new CHP.”

An emphasis on women and youth rights, remembrance of imprisoned lawmakers as well as journalists, and frequent references that the new CHP would always be on the side of the oppressed were key messages that he delivered. His description of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) as a post-modern dictator seems to have drawn a big reaction from the ruling party.

Yet this was only one of the CHP conventions that we are used to observing almost every year. One important factor making this one really special was the performance of the now world-famous “Fire of Anatolia.” Featuring a synthesis of hundreds of folk dance figures and music from different regions of Anatolia, the group successfully turned the gathering into a feast. However, only time will show whether it was a feast of democracy, or just another phase in the painful democratic transition of the country’s oldest political party.