The chairman of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) expressed support for the current candidate lists for the upcoming local elections, despite major controversy and discomfort among the party's members.
Although he previously claimed to re-evaluate the candidate lists to ease the tension within the party, Kılıçdaroğlu backed the list Thursday by stating that he would not let anyone "touch" the candidates and that there would be no change in the lists.
Several CHP members expressed their discomfort over some candidates. Mehmet Fatih Bucak, the candidate of the Nation Alliance, which was formed between the far-right Good Party (İP) and the CHP, for Şanlıurfa's Siverek district, was one of the main controversial names within the candidate lists. He caused intense debates, especially during the party's central executive board meeting Monday.
It was reported that CHP members urged the party's leadership to cancel Bucak's candidacy due to his previous remarks about other mayoral candidates that were deemed incompatible with CHP policies. 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 with the People's Alliance, formed with the Justice and Development Party (AK Party).
Earlier Monday, CHP Istanbul Deputy Gürsel Tekin said regarding the disputes that in the process of determining candidates, party principles were put aside and personal affiliations were put forward. Tekin claimed that different criteria and standards were set for each polling district.
Meanwhile, amid the tension, former deputies of the CHP wrote a letter to Kılıçdaroğlu, warning him to pursue "clean politics" within the party. Some former deputies, including Kemal Anadol, Ergün Aydoğan, Bülent Baratalı, Mehmet Boztaş, Şahin Mengü and Enis Tütüncü, urged the CHP leader to reveal all the properties of municipal candidates and their relatives. The letter has been written following the renomination of mayor of Istanbul's Maltepe district, who has been accused of corruption.
After the renomination, 16 party members from the CHP Istanbul Maltepe district, including district head Engin Özkan, handed in their resignations. However, they were not the only ones to resign since the candidate determination process has shaken the party.
The latest resignation came from Mehmet Siyam Kesimoğlu, the mayor of western Kırklareli. Kesimoğlu said he is resigning from the CHP because of the "latest developments within the party." CHP Secretary-General Mehmet Akif Hamzaçebi and several current mayors, who have not been renominated for the elections, also left their posts, claiming that the CHP administration ignored their opinions in the candidate selection process.