CHP administration undermines its dissidents with IP alliance

Published 17.12.2018 00:13
Updated 17.12.2018 08:31

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) will support the right-wing Good Party's (İP) municipal candidates in provinces where its own delegates stood by the dissidents against the party administration in convention debates, as part of the alliance strategy drafted last week for the March 31 local elections. Both parties finalized their alliance talks last week after long negotiations and decided to support each other's candidates in certain provinces. In exchange for the İP's support in 10 provinces including Turkey's three most populous provinces, Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir, the CHP will not field candidates for 11 provinces including Denizli, Manisa, Sakarya, Konya, Samsun and Kayseri.

Media outlets reported over the weekend that a majority of delegates from these provinces, where the CHP supports the İP, had submitted their signatures for an extraordinary convention calling for CHP's incumbent Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to step down.

According to reports, all of the 18 delegates in Manisa, 14 delegates in Sakarya and more than half of the delegates in eight other provinces were part of the change movement, a sign that the party administration is continuing its efforts to tame the dissidents' demands.

Kılıçdaroğlu previously also tried to silence Muharrem İnce, the last presidential candidate of the party and the leading dissident figure within the party, by not including his name in candidate surveys for Istanbul mayor despite an overwhelming demand from the party organization. Instead, he insisted on Istanbul's Beylikdüzü mayor, Ekrem İmamoğlu, who is regarded as an unpopular figure compared to İnce.

İnce has been voicing his intention to run for mayor for Istanbul with the condition that he is nominated through a primary election. Yet, Kılıçdaroğlu has been hesitant to nominate İnce, fearing that if İnce wins in Istanbul, he may re-run for the party chairmanship position, forcing himself to step down.

Following poor results in this year's presidential elections, the CHP has been in turmoil due to internal divisions sparked by the gap between the votes for İnce and the CHP. İnce lost the presidential election but was 8 percentage points ahead of the party itself in the parliamentary polls. Some party members called on Kılıçdaroğlu, whom they see as responsible for the repeated election failures, to step down. The dissidents called for a change in the party leadership and started a petition on July 16 to convene an extraordinary convention. However, they failed to reach the necessary quorum and faced harsh resistance from the party's head office. Some of them were even referred to the party disciplinary board by the CHP administration on the grounds that they were acting contrary to the basic principles of the party.

In a bid to mend the wounds inflicted by intraparty debates, the CHP is hopeful that it can get satisfying results in metropolitan municipalities and cities in the 2019 local elections through an alliance with the İP. They are trying to attract ideologically different voter bases by using rhetoric against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).

Meanwhile, reciprocal gestures in the People's Alliance, formed by the AK Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), stepped up as two parties cemented their cooperation for the upcoming elections.

Accordingly, MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli withdrew his party's Aydın mayoral candidate Ümmet Akın yesterday and decided to support the AK Party's candidate after a meeting between him and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday.

Bahçeli previously announced that the MHP won't nominate mayoral candidates in Istanbul, Ankara, and İzmir, but will instead support the candidates of the AK Party. In a bid to further strengthen the alliance, the MHP also decided to withdraw the nominations of its Denizli mayoral candidate Ebru Leman and Erzurum mayoral candidate Serdar Sevimli on Dec. 7.

In the meeting on Wednesday, the two leaders also reportedly decided to support each other's candidates depending on the parties' previous votes in the election districts. In line with this decision, the AK Party will reportedly support the MHP in six key provinces including Adana. According to the sources speaking to Daily Sabah on Friday, the AK Party won't nominate a mayoral candidate in Adana, one of the largest provinces of southern Turkey, but will instead support the candidate of the MHP as a gesture. Likewise, several district mayoral posts in Turkey's largest provinces of Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir are expected to be given to the MHP.

The People's Alliance between the MHP and the AK Party was formed ahead of the June 24 parliamentary and presidential elections. The alliance received a majority in Parliament with 53.7 percent of the votes, while the Nation Alliance formed by the CHP and İP with the participation of the conservative Felicity Party (SP) and the center-right Democrat Party (DP), received 33.9 percent of the votes.

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