After Turkey decided to adopt a presidential system last year, it will be interesting to see the position of main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and how it performs in the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24.
In fact, whenever Turkey enters an electoral process, the two main questions - Who will win the elections and how will the CHP perform - dominate the public opinion.
Founded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the CHP was Turkey's main political party, single-handedly governing Turkey for three decades. After the end of World War II, the CHP leadership decided to steer the country to a multiparty system in order to make it a part of the democratic world. The CHP's ruling cadres still occasionally praise themselves for making such a democratic decision in the late 1940s.
Almost all of the founders of the Democrat Party (DP), including Adnan Menderes, Celal Bayar and Fuat Köprülü, were politicians who left the CHP. Indeed, in the founding days of the DP, the CHP leadership seemed content with the fact that the DP was formed by people from its ranks.
Yet, the Turkish constituency, who felt suppressed especially in the terms of democracy, human rights as well as freedom of thought and faith, identified themselves immediately with the newly formed DP, which displayed some extraordinary performance and rapidly became a political power.
Since then, the CHP has not been able to secure political power singlehandedly, except for the period under Bülent Ecevit's government, immediately after the Cyprus War. It has, however, succeeded in forming a loyal electorate base, helping to around 25 percent of votes in the last decade.
The CHP leadership at first looked positive with the emergence of Good Party (İP). But, instead of attracting voters from the right, the İP will steal the CHP votes. In opposition to the alliance founded by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the CHP has made an alliance with the rightist İP and the Felicity Party (SP). At present, their share of votes seems to be around 30 percent.
At the beginning of the CHP's search for a presidential candidate, the party leadership exerted themselves on center-right political figures like former President Abdullah Gül, and İlhan Kesici.
In the meantime, the newly founded İP announced that they will have their own presidential candidate. In order to protect its own electorate against the İP, the CHP decided to compete in the presidential elections with its own candidate, Muharrem İnce.
In other words, CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu nominated his strongest rival for the CHP leadership as the party's presidential candidate. Therefore, the CHP's performance in the presidential and parliamentary elections will be very important for the party itself.
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