Kılıçdaroğlu's reaction to the execution of a defenseless public prosecutor in Istanbul calls for a comprehensive analysis of the CHP's close ties to violence and terrorism
The "New CHP" debate dates back to 2010, when Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu assumed the leadership of the main opposition party and employed the concept in their constitutional referendum campaign. Thus far, however, the claim has remained limited to the rebranding of the party with reference to elite-level diversity. The newcomers, who simply could not make it anywhere else, were united under the CHP by their opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), rather than a set of common political goals.
With the exception of a small number of new elites joining the ranks, the most notable development in recent years has been the CHP's new rules of engagement with street protests and the radical left. For years, the party had aimed to consolidate its base and remain a center-left movement. Under Kılıçdaroğlu, however, we have witnessed the party organization turning its back on years of experience.
Almost overnight, CHP politicians appeared on TV screens boycotting parliamentary proceedings, with their leader jumping over police barricades on public squares. Encouraged by the developments, several parliamentarians' befriended violent groups with a record of terrorist activities. While supporters attending the chairman's weekly addresses changed their tone almost overnight, the New CHP quickly became a political teenager prioritizing street cred over parliamentary politics.
Deeply confused about the six arrows of Kemalist ideology, the single-party period's legacy and the party's post-2002 advocacy of the guardianship regime, CHP supporters and representatives became more and more open to activism. In a way, the constant mobility of street demonstrations allowed the party to avoid the desperately-needed confrontation with its history, while creating a shortcut to the New CHP ideal.
The close involvement of the CHP (a movement tracing its roots to the secularist establishment) with the radical left, triggered a period of turbulence characterized by efforts to legitimize the Syrian government's sectarian agenda with reference to anti-imperialism, and use supposedly non-political violence to conceal the Islamophobia and class-based hatred of the Gezi Park protests.
During the 2013 protests, the CHP, a mainstream political party, found itself on the streets and rode the uncontrollable wave of the masses. Consuming mob violence and terror in mass quantities, the party began to see eye to eye with radical movements and received a standing ovation from like-minded journalists. In light of these developments, the CHP found itself unable to keep its distance from violent groups.
Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu's reaction to the execution of a defenseless public prosecutor in Istanbul calls for a comprehensive analysis of the CHP's close ties to violence and terrorism. With the number of people killed in the name of avenging a 14-year-old victim of those who glorified the Gezi Park protests and terror on the rise, the CHP chairman's accusations resulted in a number of conspiracy theories on social media. At this point, Turkey's main opposition party ostensibly refuses to distance itself from a terrorist organization despite their leader's unsuccessful efforts to call for calm hours after provoking millions on Twitter.
In recent months, Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu stated, for some reason, that his party aimed at breaking the 35-percent mark in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Where he stands on the party's relations with violent groups, terrorism and street clashes, though, remains an important sign of not only the CHP's transformation but also the country's overall welfare.
In conclusion, teenage angst will hardly lead the main opposition party anywhere except further isolation due to new massacres by "the good boys." We can already tell that Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu lacks the capacity to keep his party away from this new kind of politics deriving power from funerals and vengeance. As such, it remains unlikely for the New CHP to redefine its platform without overcoming the temptation of the streets.