Final mayoral candidate lists drag CHP, İP into turmoil

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
Published 21.02.2019 00:20

The Republican People's Party (CHP) and the far-right Good Party (İP) continued their trail of chaos following the list submission for mayoral candidates and membership of city councils for the March 31 elections to the Supreme Election Board (YSK) on Tuesday. The İP was shaken as the much-debated İP Mersin mayoral candidate Burhanettin Kocamaz's submission was not accepted by the YSK due to the İP's provincial party organization's late submission.

"I received a heavy blow [that came] from within the party," Kocamaz said.

The party also issued a written statement on Tuesday, underlining that "this is neither negligence nor irresponsibility. This is an internal operation targeting İP. We have a duty to reveal the reasons and the responsible people behind this." The party administration also announced that the provincial İP administration members were sacked for their efforts to undermine the party. In relation to the issue, İP chairwoman Meral Akşener highlighted yesterday that those who felt uneasy about the İP's claim of winning Mersin province orchestrated this trap.

Following this, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahçeli invited Kocamaz to join his party instead, given how he was treated by the İP.

However, despite Bahçeli's invitation, Kocamaz decided later in the day to run as the candidate for the Democrat Party (DP). Alliance talks between the CHP and İP for the local elections have been in the spotlight with numerous discussions and objections from party organizations.

Some local party organizations protested the administration for not consulting them in alliance negotiations when it came to their provinces and also disregarding tendency surveys, public views and warnings in making decisions. Mersin, where the İP has the strongest voter base, has also been the center of debate in the alliance since the CHP opted to field their own candidate in the province despite expectations that it will support the İP. Also on Tuesday, the İP faced another challenge by its İstanbul's Maltepe party organization. Slamming the CHP's Maltepe candidate, who the İP supports in line with the alliance, the party organization declared that they will support the MHP candidate instead of CHP's Ali Kılınç. Following the announcement, which was published on the social media account of the party organization, the İP İstanbul province head Satuk Buğra Kavuncu said that Maltepe district organization members were removed from their position.

Not only has the İP been under heavy criticism by its party organization, but the CHP is also suffering from disarray.

Turning a blind eye to the objections of party members, CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu insisted on the nomination of Fatih Bucak for the mayoral post in Şanlıurfa's Siverek district. Two months ago CHP Group Vice Chairman Özgür Özel had said Bucan was someone who used mafia and war-like language.

Meanwhile, 12 members of the CHP party assembly submitted a petition to the administration over the weekend calling for an extraordinary convention to convene to re-evaluate the party's mayoral candidates for İstanbul's Maltepe and Şanlıurfa's Siverek districts.

Kılıçdaroğlu's stubbornness also created a deep rift between the youth branches of the party and the headquarters. The CHP İstanbul Youth Branches lashed out on Tuesday against the party organization for not fielding younger candidates. "We only come to the CHP administration's mind when it is time to hang party flags and distribute brochures for elections, but fade into oblivion when representation becomes an issue. We will fight against this," said the written statement issued by the İstanbul Youth Branches. Meanwhile, the candidate lists also unmasked secret cooperation between the CHP and the pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) as the HDP did not nominate candidates in 11 metropolitan cities, adding seven more provinces in support of the Nation Alliance, despite the party's denials of such cooperation. Accordingly, the HDP will not field its own candidates in İstanbul, Ankara, İzmir, Adana, Mersin, Hatay, Aydın, Antalya, Bursa, Gaziantep and Adıyaman.

The CHP has refrained from officially including the HDP, which has been condemned for its close ties with the PKK, in its electoral alliance with the İP, amid fears of a possible backlash from its secular-nationalist voter base. In the June 24, 2018 general elections, however, the CHP had urged its voter base to vote for the HDP to stop the AK Party from having a single majority.

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