Twelve party assembly members of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) called for an extraordinary meeting on Saturday to reevaluate mayoral candidates for March 31 local elections as the party continues to be plagued by intraparty divisions.
"Candidates causing the discussions should be reevaluated and submitted for the approval of the party assembly before presenting to the YSK [Turkey's Supreme Election Board]," the petition said.
The 12 party assembly members include Gaye Usluer, a prominent figure in the dissident faction, and CHP Trabzon Deputy Haluk Pekşen, who initially submitted a petition to the administration on late Friday calling for an extraordinary meeting to convene to reevaluate the party's candidate for Istanbul's Maltepe and Şanlıurfa's Siverek district mayors. However, the petition was not accepted on the groun
ds that the chief clerk was not present. Members later sent the same petition on Saturday to the party administration via fax.
The 12 members also sent a letter to CHP incumbent Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu saying that the candidates for Siverek and Maltepe prompted discomfort in the public and a protest in the Maltepe party organization. Members underscored that such a situation may lead to failure in the upcoming elections if attention is not paid to it.
The petition also pointed out that the administration should evaluate the demand for the convention by Feb. 19 before the candidate list was presented to YSK without waiting for the one-week deadline provided by the party bylaw. However, according to media reports, the convention demand infuriated the party administration, deciding to convene the convention after Feb. 19.
The CHP has been in disarray for some time now due to the candidate nomination process and alliance talks with the right-wing Good Party (İP). The CHP administration and Kılıçdaroğlu, who failed to emerge victorious in four parliamentary, two presidential and one local election in addition to a crucial system change referendum, were blamed for nominating figures closer to their line at the expense of popular and experienced candidates with independent stances or ties to the intraparty opposition. Even CHP Istanbul Deputy Gürsel Tekin, who has been in Kılıçdaroğlu's corner for a decade, questions the CHP leadership's motives. Tekin said last week that in the process of determining candidates, the party's principles were put aside while personal affiliations were put forward.
This, along with concessions to the İP for their cooperation, led to numerous protests of party organizations and mass resignations on a local scale, while many prominent party members also left their positions. Most recently, former CHP Çankaya Mayor Haydar Yılmaz resigned on Saturday from his party and joined the ranks of the center-right Democrat Party (DP), after not being re-nominated by his party. Yılmaz is expected to be presented as the party's Ankara mayoral candidate in the local elections. The DP not only opened its doors to Yılmaz but also accepted other former CHP mayors infuriated by their administration's decision. CHP District Mayor Handan Toprak in Avcılar, İstanbul, and CHP Marmaris Mayor Ali Acar were among those who joined the DP over the weekend.
In relation to the issue, Kılıçdaroğlu told Habertürk that similar incidents were experienced in the past, but when the DP failed in the elections, those who left the CHP and joined the DP returned to their original party.
Kılıçdaroğlu also underscored that they previously offered the DP to be part of the alliance in the March 31 elections, but the party refused the offer.
Speaking at an election rally in Izmir where CHP candidates were presented, Kılıçdaroğlu said yesterday that although some criticized the party for its alliances, they are determined to ally with every voter on March 31. "We will rebuild Turkey together," he said during the meeting and promised that they will build cities where people live in peace.