CHP tells members to be more in-touch with mainstream voters for upcoming local elections

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
Published

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) continues to look for strategies to attract the support of mainstream voters in the upcoming local elections scheduled for March 2019. The party adopted a new model of organizing on the streets. Milliyet newspaper reported yesterday that the CHP created a new model with the motto of "Get to know, listen and do your neighbors a favor" in a bid to attract new votes.

The model foresees organizing each neighborhood, including 400 voters in districts across the country. A trained party responsible for these groups will be appointed to maintain open communication channels with voters.

The model reportedly was submitted to incumbent CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu during the party's Central Executive Board (MYK) gathering on Monday. The model is planned to continue even after the March 2019 local elections.

Through this model, the party seeks to gain the voters' sympathy and subsequently their trust, and support. The fieldwork of the organizations in neighborhoods will be supervised systemically.

In early October, the party urged its grassroots to leave the elitist rhetoric and embrace a rhetoric that would connect better with mainstream voters and center-right voters, who constitute the majority of the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) voter base.

The CHP has been criticized by pundits for being elitist as well as embracing a pedantic rhetoric and thus failing to appeal to regular voters. The party has been traditionally successful in high-income districts and provinces and its sporadic strongholds but has failed to earn majorities in the suburbs and central, eastern and southern provinces. The party frequently nominates candidates from right-wing grassroots to gain broader support, a move that is often criticized by the CHP's original voter base, causing dilemmas for the party's administration.

Meanwhile, according to media reports, an overwhelming number of people applied for CHP candidacy in municipalities considered guaranteed wins by the party, while the CHP suffers from a lack of candidates in east and southeast regions where the party gathers almost no votes. The CHP will not nominate deputies in municipalities considered strongholds of the party.

Names of the candidates are expected to be determined by Kılıçdaroğlu in consultation with the party's assembly, despite mounting demand for primary elections in the party organization. The party previously announced around 150 names of candidates for the districts and towns, and the names for provinces are expected to be announced on Nov. 14.

The party has reportedly determined the names for cities such as Eskişehir, Aydın, Eskişehir, Aydın, Hatay, Balıkesir, Burdur, Giresun, Bolu and Kocaeli, but the names for the three big metropolitan cities, Ankara, İzmir and Istanbul have yet to be determined. The party has reportedly set its sights on Ankara metropolitan municipality and believes that CHP voters in the city have increased considerably compared to previous years.

The party has been underscoring that they will nominate people who internalized the culture of the party and complies with the party discipline in every municipality in the upcoming elections.

The CHP was shaken by a complete defeat in the June 24 elections, contrary to the hype created domestically. The party acquired 22.6 percent of the vote - a lower level of support compared to previous elections. The votes in all the metropolitan cities and the cities where the CHP attracts the majority of votes also decreased considerably, aggravating the defeat of the party.

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