At a time when the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) needs to stand united in a still unlikely attempt to take on the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) juggernaut in the polls, the party's chairman and presidential candidate are taking openly hostile stances against each other. Yesterday the CHP's presidential candidate Muharrem İnce, who has been on the campaign trail since getting his party's backing late on May 4, suddenly decided to suspend two rallies, complaining about a sore throat. It later became apparent that İnce was angry at the fact that CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu had failed to include many of his allies on the party's list of parliamentary candidates to run in the June 24 elections.
İnce, who had run against Kılıçdaroğlu for party leadership twice, in 2014 and last February, was seen by many at the time as Kılıçdaroğlu's second choice to run in the presidential elections. The chairman was also accused of trying to rid himself of an irritant within the party. İnce, who will likely lose, will also be out of Parliament. Kılıçdaroğlu initially tried to recruit the former president from the AK Party, Abdullah Gül, as a joint candidate of the opposition, but had to go it alone after Gül refused and Good Party (İP) Chairwoman Meral Akşener insisted on running herself. Mahmut Övür, a columnist from Sabah newspaper, said, "I think İnce has been eliminated from the party by the party's nominating him as a presidential candidate."
He also said that through Kılıçdaroğlu's machinations, İnce's allies were also removed from Parliament, ensuring İnce's likely defeat will end his political career and Kılıçdaroğlu's supremacy within the party.
İnce, who seemed taken aback at first, decided to fight back, announcing his intention to hold the two rallies, in Bartın and Zonguldak ion the Black Sea coast. He tweeted, "My voice is now better." At the rally, he said, once he became the president, he would prepare his own list of ministers, in an evident dig at the party chairman who prepared the list of parliamentary candidates.
Kılıçdaroğlu held a series of meetings with party authorities on Sunday and discussed the names of candidates to be included in the list. The final list was approved by the CHP's party assembly and then submitted to the Supreme Election Council (YSK) yesterday.Among those included on the list were former party Chairman Deniz Baykal, who was replaced by Kılıçdaroğlu in 2010 after a sex scandal, and former deputy prime minister who served in the AK Party government between 2002 and 2007, Abdüllatif Şener. Baykal, 79, is currently recuperating from a dangerous brain aneurism.
Among the parliamentary candidates were also the 15 CHP deputies who transferred to the İP late last month before coming back to the party on May 10. The aim was to create a parliamentary group for the İP to allow Akşener to run as a presidential candidate. Akşener later collected the 100,000 signatures needed to run instead.