The deadline for collecting signatures to hold an extraordinary convention in the Republican People's Party (CHP) comes to an end today at 5:30 p.m. However, the number of signatures collected so far has remained a point of debate and whether the dissidents within the CHP would be able to hit the required numbers remains to be seen. The CHP dissidents have been calling for a convention to elect Muharrem İnce (L), former CHP Yalova deputy and the party's presidential candidate in the June 24 elections, as the new party chairman.
The process of collecting signatures to hold an extraordinary convention was launched on July 16 by the dissidents on the grounds that "the party has leadership problem" and "the CHP needs a change in order to be successful in the upcoming local elections."
Current CHP Chairman Kemal Kılçdaroğlu's has attempted to divert the attention away from the extraordinary convention. He also made promises of change in the party's Central Executive Board (MYK), while CHP's 59 provincial heads spoke in support of Kılıçdaroğlu to dissuade dissidents from convening a convention before the 2019 local elections. Support for İnce, however, grows.
While Kılıçdaroğlu and the current party administration has said that the necessary number of signatures would not be reached, CHP Bilecik deputy and the spokesman for the dissidents Yaşar Tüzün claimed Friday that they have received 559 signatures and 69 more were on the way to be handed in, pushing the total number to 628.According to CHP bylaws, 634 party delegates have to submit their signatures within 15 days after the process officially starts. If the petition is submitted, the CHP administration is obliged to hold an extraordinary convention within 45 days.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, Erdal Aksünder, a member of CHP's Party Assembly called for Kılıçdaroğlu to hold an extraordinary convention before the local elections, without waiting for the submission of the petition by the dissidents, in order to prevent another disaster in the 2019 local elections.
As the process of collecting signatures continues, it has been also argued that some dissidents might backpedal from their demand of a convention because of the mounting pressure on them.
In relation to the issue, Aksünger said that there should be no pressure either on delegates demanding an extraordinary convention to withdraw their signatures or on those who do not sign the petition, pointing out allegations of threat and bribery for posts in municipalities of the big cities.
According to the CHP administration, if İnce and the dissidents continue their persistence on the convention, they may take the process to court such as in the case of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) vs. Meral Akşener, former MHP dissident.
If the CHP administration resorts to legal action, the demands for the convention may be ruled as illegal, forcing İnce and his supporters to split from the CHP and found a new party.