İnce shakes CHP to its core

THE EDITORIAL BOARD
ISTANBUL
Published

The post-election bafflement among the representatives of the foreign media stuck in the so-called "Cihangir bubble" has become a bit tedious. The three stages of delusion began with attacking the government and accusing it of all sorts of anti-democratic traits before picking one or more opposition figures as symbols of democracy, and then being shocked when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan swept the vote.

As Daily Sabah has repeatedly underlined in the past, Turkey does not have a governing party problem but an opposition problem. The lack of an efficient and effective opposition prevents the implementation of proper checks and balances in the system. We, as Daily Sabah, know foreign journalists are not fond of Erdoğan; so, it is natural for them to favor the opposition, which needs all the help it can get.

The international media attached itself to the Republican People's Party's (CHP) presidential candidate Muharrem İnce before the elections. However, they dropped him the moment it became apparent that he had lost to Erdoğan. Anyone who really knows Turkish politics knows İnce was never Erdoğan's real rival. The person he actually challenged was CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who has now lost his ninth successive election against the AK Party.

However, when he eventually gathered his courage to face the press, Kılıçdaroğlu said his party, which received 22.6 percent of the vote, was the victor, while the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), with 42.6 percent support, was actually the loser. Referring to the growing calls for his replacement by İnce, he said no one in his party should aspire for higher office – apparently ignoring the fact that aspiring to higher office is why one enters politics in the first place.

İnce undoubtedly performed well during the election campaign, receiving 8 percent more support than his party in the presidential vote. He has become a symbol of the CHP's possible invigoration. The defeat on June 24 did not thwart him from his eventual objective. The day after, he confronted the cameras and said that he would start another campaign, this time within the party, by visiting all 81 provincial party bureaus.

On the path he has chosen, İnce needs allies and friends more than ever. Yılmaz Özdil, one of the most anti-AK Party pundits around, even wrote a column pleading with Erdoğan to take action and remove Kılıçdaroğlu from the CHP for the good of the country. While joking tongue in cheek, he suggested that the CHP be taken under trusteeship.

While Özdil may be dramatizing for effect, the problem is truly monumental. Kılıçdaroğlu's response has been predictable. He immediately moved to expel senior CHP members who supported İnce, including the party's newly elected deputy from Elazığ, Gürsel Erol. The main opposition CHP is run by men who do not provide an alternative. Rather than complain about another Erdoğan victory, it is about time foreign journalists focused on the CHP and those trying to revitalize it; or else, the CHP will suffer its 10th defeat under the leadership of Kılıçdaroğlu in next year's local elections, and the foreign press corps will once again be stunned about how it came about.

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