Turkish main opposition leadership race heats up

Turkish main opposition leadership race heats up

Turkish main opposition leadership race heats up

Republican People’s Party (CHP) Ankara deputy Emine Ülker Tarhan has said she may run in the upcoming party convention. AA Photo

The race for the leadership of Turkey’s main opposition party has become wide open, with a leading dissident suggesting that she may run against its leader at the upcoming party convention and the current leader promising a new vision for the party.

In remarks made to state-run Anadolu Agency, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Ankara deputy Emine Ülker Tarhan underlined the party’s grassroots, particularly women and the youth, have been voicing great support for her candidacy.

“I am continuing to make assessments with my colleagues for the future of our party and our country,” Tarhan responded when asked whether she would run against CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu during the extraordinary convention scheduled for Sept. 5-6.

“I want reason and common sense to be at the forefront under these extraordinary conditions. I will make a statement to the public after these assessments,” she added.

Her remarks, which were exclusively delivered to Anadolu Agency, came only a day after CHP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Muharrem İnce announced his resignation from his post in order to run against Kılıçdaroğlu.

CHP Istanbul deputy Umut Oran, a former deputy chair of the party who at the time harshly criticized Kılıçdaroğlu after he removed him from his post during a reshuffle at the Central Executive Board (MYK), released a written statement in support of the idea of holding of an extraordinary convention.

“The CHP is a phoenix and it is time for [the CHP] to be reborn from its ashes,” Oran said Aug. 19.
During a 2008 convention, Oran had run against Kılıçdaroğlu’s predecessor Deniz Baykal, who was eventually reelected.

In the Central Anatolian province of Nevşehir, 78 of the CHP’s provincial chairs announced their support for Kılıçdaroğlu in a joint declaration released yesterday. However, these provinces did not include Düzce, Isparta and Yalova

Kılıçdaroğlu’s competitor İnce has been serving as the CHP’s Yalova deputy since 2002.

Ship’s route and the captain

For his part, Kılıçdaroğlu delivered messages of reconciliation and unity, embracing the “diversity” of views within the party.

“The CHP has made a decision of reconciliation in a way that could set a model for the whole of Turkey, while our Republic is being turned into a sultanate,” Kılıçdaroğlu said yesterday on his Twitter account. 

He claimed the CHP was on the way to becoming the party of the people with a new political understanding that defends everyone’s democratic rights.

“The CHP is democracy’s castle. Nobody should have a doubt about that. I will be the unyielding advocate of democracy both within the party and Turkey. At the CHP, each decision we make at our conventions aims at making us all stronger together. Freedom of opinion is a requirement of democracy. Every opinion in the party is precious to me. Our people are waiting for a new vision that will overcome the deadlock [currently] in politics and will destroy its walls. The party of the people will give its ear to the voice of people,” he added.

In Ankara, meanwhile, CHP Adana deputy Ümit Özgümüş and CHP Bolu deputy Tanju Özcan voiced support for İnce, arguing there is need to return to the social democratic, libertarian and leftist principles of the past.

“The CHP is currently like a ship with no destination,” Özgümüş said.