CHP's İzmir candidate creates discomfort among ally İP's nationalist base

Published 30.01.2019 01:04

The Republican People's Party's (CHP) announcement that they have nominated Tunç Soyer as their mayoral candidate for İzmir triggered a fuss between the party and its ally in the election, the Good Party (İP). The far-right İP's party organization criticized Soyer's candidacy of not being an all-inclusive decision.

On Sunday, the CHP fielded Soyer's name for its stronghold İzmir in the local elections slated for March 31 after long running intraparty debates; however, his name caused uproar within the İP, as Soyer is the son of a military prosecutor who judged and demanded the execution of many right-wing figures, including the pioneer of Turkish nationalists' Alparslan Türkeş, during trials that took place after the military coup that took place in the 1980s.

"Soyer's candidacy spurred reactions from our voter base and party organization as our priority was the nomination of a candidate with respect to the sensitivities of all factions of society," the İP's İzmir party organization said in a statement Monday.

The İP was founded under Meral Akşener's leadership in October 2017 after a group of dissidents from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) left the party in 2016 when their efforts to dislodge MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli failed following a heated judicial process. Just like its voter base, the party's deputies mainly consist of nationalist figures, who have been engaging in right-wing movements, including Akşener's herself. Alparslan Türkeş, a former colonel and founder of the MHP and its nationalist predecessor movements, is seen as a paragon by many nationalist people in Turkey. Along with many other prominent politicians, Türkeş was prosecuted after trials following the military takeover in 1980 and banned from politics for a while.

Bahçeli also criticized Soyer's candidacy by referring his father's position during the post-1980 trials. "No nationalist or revolutionary could accept this decision," he said.

Speaking about the dispute over Soyer's candidacy, ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) spokesman Ömer Çelik said yesterday, "Sons do not carry the burden of their fathers, but there is such thing as ‘baggage of history'."

In a response to the criticism, however, Akşener said yesterday, "Türkeş himself had indicated that crimes would not pass from the fathers to their sons."

The newly announced candidates not only caused tension in the İP, the CHP also had to deal with its own inner conflicts. Sunday's party caucus meeting of the CHP, where the names of 145 mayoral candidates were revealed for the upcoming elections, was shadowed by intraparty conflicts prompted by disputes about names.

Following the 18-hour meeting held under the leadership of CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, CHP Istanbul Province head Canan Kaftancıoğlu announced that she had resigned from her post in reaction to the mayoral candidates the party determined to compete in the upcoming municipal elections; however, she later withdrew her resignation.

Media outlets have reported that there have been growing demands within the CHP for removing Kaftancıoğlu from her position. Also, some dissident figures objected to the mayoral candidate of Istanbul's Kadıköy district, Şerdil Odabaşı, for irregularities in voting in the party caucus meeting. CHP party caucus member Hakkı Süha Okay said 30 members voted for and 29 members against Odabaşı's candidacy, while one member abstained. According to party bylaws, Okay asserted, Odabaşı had to gain a majority of 60 members, which corresponds to 31 votes.

Meanwhile, the CHP is expected to announce all of its election candidates in the last party assembly meeting that will take place on Feb. 2.

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