Turkish main opposition leader downplays prospects for quest for new leader
Deniz Zeyrek ANKARA / Hürriyet
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said he would respect any call for holding an extraordinary party convention upon the results of the presidential election in which İhsanoğlu. AA PhotoTurkey’s main opposition party leader has soft-pedaled apparent uneasiness within his party stemming from the party leadership’s choice for their presidential candidate, while increasing dissidents within the party have begun raising their voices against the inappropriateness of choosing a figure like Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu as their presidential candidate.
In exclusive remarks to Hürriyet, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu noted he would respect any call for holding an extraordinary party convention upon the results of the presidential election in which İhsanoğlu, their joint candidate with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), failed to receive the total percentage of votes that the two major opposition parties received in the March 30 local elections.
“This result has not started a debate about leadership in the CHP. I would be glad if it starts. Candidates come up and a democratic race takes place. If a call is made for a convention, I would also respect that,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in an interview before his party’s Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting scheduled for Aug. 13.
Kılıçdaroğlu echoed MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli who earlier argued some 5 million voters who did not vote would bear the responsibility for any negative political developments in the country’s future.
“Vacationers didn’t go to the ballot boxes. They didn’t want to sacrifice their comfort,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. He added surveys exaggerated the potential vote President-elect, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would receive. Assuming Erdoğan would be elected anyway, both opposition and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters might not have gone to the ballot boxes, he argued.
There is a widely held argument that many secular and urban middle-class voters who were on vacation at the time of the election did not interrupt their holiday to return to their polling stations because they did not approve of İhsanoğlu’s candidacy.
Still, whether Kılıçdaroğlu’s arguments will be satisfactory is questionable, with the CHP’s Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Muharrem İnce having already voiced his uneasiness through messages posted on his Twitter account late Aug. 11, when he labeled the election results as a “fiasco” for his party.
“There is obviously a huge fiasco and remaining silent and saying ‘We are successful,’ is not suitable. We cannot take up with this situation, we cannot pass it off,” İnce said. “I will not watch our citizens be dragged into despair and watch my party melt away and disappear. I foresaw this negative result, I warned against it, but I kept silent to not damage my party and worked to win the election,” he added. “Now is not the time to find a scapegoat for the fiasco, but it is the time to find a remedy,” he said.
A leading neo-nationalist deputy, CHP İzmir Lawmaker Birgül Ayman Güler, displayed her support for İnce’s messages through re-tweeting his messages, while also reviewing the results of the Aug. 10 election in detail in an article posted to her blog.
The executives of the parties who are responsible for the brainchild “joint candidate,” by-passed their own parties and announced they were ready to pay any cost in the case of failure, Güler recalled. They, however, dared to hold the electorate who did not vote responsible for this failure, she noted.
“The responsibility for the fiasco that was experienced lies on the shoulders of the authorities who wrongfully created the ‘Joint Candidate’ formula and tried to have it embraced through imposing it on millions of voters,” Güler said in her article dated Aug. 11 and titled “Review of Aug. 10.”