Republican People's Party (CHP) İzmir deputy Mustafa Balbay on Wednesday announced that he will be running as a candidate against Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in the upcoming general party congress.
Following the unsatisfactory results for the main opposition party in the Nov. 1 snap elections, party opposition took the most concrete step on Sunday voicing opposition to Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as 42 provincial chairmen of the party called for early party congress. The CHP has been in the position of the main opposition for the last 13 years.
Former CHP Istanbul deputy Umut Oran and Yalova deputy Muharrem İnce also raised their voices against the party's frustrating election results and announced their candidacies for CHP chairman at separate press conferences, while vice chairman Murat Özçelik reportedly resigned from his post and party councillorship late Wednesday.
İnce said on Monday that a leadership that has lost six elections would not win a seventh, pointing out the CHP's failure to increase its vote share in the Nov. 1 elections.
The CHP received 25.31 percent of the vote and 133 seats in Parliament in the Nov. 1 elections. Many CHP deputies previously criticized the party's vote share, saying that maintaining its 25 percent vote share is not a success, referring to the party's votes increasing by a miniscule amount from June to November.
"The CHP is still getting 25 percent, we need to dust ourselves off. Those responsible should be held accountable for this," İnce said on Tuesday. "If President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan goes on a referendum for a presidential system, he will win the referendum."
İnce previously ran for the CHP chairmanship in the extraordinary congress held in September 2014 and lost to then and current CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. Meanwhile, 42 chairs from provincial organizations, which were elected as delegates in the last congress, made a call on Sunday for the party to hold a special meeting as soon as possible.
Earlier, Oran called for Kılıçdaroğlu to convene a general congress immediately and announced his candidacy for the chairmanship in a written statement on Wednesday. Oran said that unless Kılıçdaroğlu faces reality and does what is necessary, the party organization and current delegates will take the most important duty themselves: "As Kılıçdaroğlu said when he took office, unfortunately a considerable increase in votes could not be achieved in six elections in the last five years."
Along with swords drawn for the party chairmanship, there is also an increasing tone of criticism from several pro-CHP figures in the media. On Tuesday, Bekir Coşkun, columnist for Kemalist daily Sözcü, wrote a column saying Kılıçdaroğlu must leave his position due to the electoral defeat and that the CHP needs new leaders. "After losing eight elections to [the AK Party], what does a person wait for to leave?" he asked, adding that it is impossible to pretend nothing happened.