Muharrem Ince, the candidate of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) in June 24 presidential elections, said he suggested to Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to call for a party congress and he will be able to run for the chairmanship in that case.
Ince's remarks came after the two politicians met in Ankara on Monday evening to hold a meeting in the aftermath of June 24 elections, in which incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) emerged victorious with 52.6 and 42.6 of the votes, respectively. The People Alliance, which consisted of the AK Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), secured a comfortable majority in the parliament with 53.7 percent.
Meanwhile, the CHP became caught in a leadership debate as Ince received 30.6 percent of the votes, eight percentage points higher than the CHP.
Speaking on Tuesday at the parliament to terminate his role as a deputy after 16 years, Ince reiterated that he won't run against Kılıçdaroğlu, who beat him twice in congresses in 2014 and 2018. However, he added that he offered Kılıçdaroğlu an honorary party chairmanship position.
"I told the chairman that he acted like a statesman by nominating [for presidency] someone who ran against him and sending 15 deputies to the Good Party (IP) [to secure participation in the elections]; that he has been enshrined in the people's hearts and that it must continue; that I don't want to be in competition with him but the nation has hope and we must not lose this; and offered him that if he wishes to, he can call for an extraordinary congress by himself, and I can be the chairman and he can be the honorary chairman," Ince said.
"He did not say yes or no. If Kılıçdaroğlu says no to my offer then the party organization will solve this on its own. I won't be collecting signatures [for a congress]," he added.
However, in first remarks after İnce's statement, Kılıçdaroğlu described his words as "political impoliteness," saying it was a private dinner between the two.
Party Spokesman Bülent Tezcan confirmed Kılıçdaroğlu's statement, adding that the CHP will also hold the Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting on Thursday.
Before being nominated by the CHP administration to run as the party's presidential candidate, Ince unsuccessfully ran twice against Kılıçdaroğlu in party congresses in 2014 and 2018. In the 2014 congress, 740 delegates voted for Kılıçdaroğlu while Ince received the backing of 415 delegates. In 2018, 790 delegates voted for Kılıçdaroğlu, while Ince received 447 votes. Ince's supporters have been criticizing Kılıçdaroğlu for piling up the party with delegates who are close to him.
However, it has also been rumored that the CHP is considering nominating Ince for Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor in the upcoming local elections scheduled for March 2019. Although it may seem like an insignificant position compared to the presidency or party chairmanship, in Istanbul, which is home to one-sixth of Turkey's population and one-fifth of voters, mayors control the largest public administration budget in the country and have the chance to prove themselves in action.