The Republican People's Party (CHP) has faced a series of resignations as mistrust within the party over nominations for the March 31 local elections continues to grow.
Sixteen more party members, including the CHP Istanbul Maltepe district head Engin Özkan and all members of the district board, resigned Thursday. The group claimed that the CHP administration ignored their opinions in the candidate selection process.
The mass resignation has prompted fresh debate within the party over the approval of some of its municipal candidates.
Özkan said their opinions and demands were overlooked during the nomination process.
"Following the evaluation process, we were pushed to the point of resignation by the difficulties we faced in the decision-making process. We felt a lack of trust."
The CHP's candidate nomination process has continued to draw criticism and resignations. The head of Selçuk district of İzmir province, Merve Çalışkan resigned from the party. She said that the party administration attempted to control the selection of even the alderman of the district, which has 28,000 voters. In a written statement, Çalışkan said she cannot continue to serve as the district head during this "anti-democratic process."
Media reports claimed that CHP secretary-general Mehmet Akif Hamzaçebi resigned Thursday night after his opinions on candidates were disregarded. Hamzaçebi reportedly voiced his opposition of the candidates in Küçükçekmece, Ataşehir, Maltepe and Kadıköy to the party Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. Reports said that the candidacy of Ali Kılıç for Maltepe Municipality played a big role behind his resignation.
Hamzaçebi reportedly rejected Kılıç's candidacy due to corruption rumors involving him and instead backed Ercan Köymen as the candidate.
Commenting on the resignation of Hamzaçebi, Ekrem İmamoğlu, candidate for the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, on Friday said, "People can make their own decisions within the party." He added that they need to resolve the issues through dialogue within the party without reflecting these to the public.
Reportedly, during the last party caucus meeting last week, candidate names were long-discussed and voted on one by one. Yet dissidents within the party tried to change both the way of voting and the names of candidates by submitting a large number of proposals.
At an earlier party caucus meeting on Jan. 27, the names of CHP's 145 mayor candidates were revealed, sparking intraparty fighting. Following an 18-hour meeting, held under the leadership of Kılıçdaroğlu, some party members expressed their frustration over candidate selections and resigned.
CHP's Istanbul province head Canan Kaftancıoğlu announced that she would be resigning from her post but later withdrew her resignation.
Meanwhile, the candidacy of Mehmet Fatih Bucak for Şanlıurfa's Siverek district has also raised some eyebrows within the CHP. Bucak previously applied for candidacy from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) but resigned when the MHP did not nominate a candidate in Şanlıurfa, as part of its strategy under the People's Alliance with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).
The CHP is expected to announce its remaining candidates soon as Kılıçdaroğlu will hold a candidate presentation meeting Sunday.