CHP dissidents claim sufficient delegate signatures collected for extraordinary convention

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
Published 31.07.2018 00:19
Updated 31.07.2018 00:21
Following the elections on June 24, dissidents from the CHP officially launched a process to hold an extraordinary convention with the aim of replacing Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (R) with Muharrem İnce (L).
Following the elections on June 24, dissidents from the CHP officially launched a process to hold an extraordinary convention with the aim of replacing Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (R) with Muharrem İnce (L).

Turmoil and the heated debates in the main opposition CHP over an extraordinary convention have not yet ended, despite the deadline for collecting the needed delegate signatures passing yesterday. Disidents supporting İnce are saying they have reached a quorum, while some reports suggest they did not reach the needed signatures from delegates

Dissidents from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) claimed yesterday that the confirmed number of delegate signatures needed for an extraordinary convention will be submitted to the party administration on Thursday.

While some media reports claimed that the needed number of signatures from delegates were not collected, CHP Party Assembly member Gaye Usluer, who is one of the dissidents, said the needed number of delegate signatures will be submitted to the party's administration by Thursday.

"The needed number of delegate signatures will be put together and submitted to party headquarters on Thursday," Usluer wrote on her Twitter account after the deadline yesterday.

The dissidents needed to collect the necessary number of signatures by 5:30 p.m. yesterday.

CHP northwestern Bilecik deputy Yaşar Tüzün also said yesterday that the needed signatures will be submitted to the party on Thursday. The dissidents have seven days to submit the collected signatures to the party administration.

According to CHP bylaws, 634 party delegates, 51 percent of the total, must submit their signatures within 15 days of starting the process for an extraordinary convention. The process of collecting signatures was launched by the dissidents on July 16 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." Their man of choice, İnce has blamed the current party administration and Kılıçdaroğlu of failures in the past nine elections.

If the number of required signatures are met, Kılıçdaroğlu will required to call a convention within the next 45 days.

This is İnce's third attempt to overthrow Kılıçdaroğlu after he failed at CHP conventions in 2014 and earlier this year.

He claims that a change must occur in the party leadership for it to be successful in the upcoming local elections in March 2019 and the presidential elections in 2023.

In 2014, İnce challenged Kılıçdaroğlu at the 18th extraordinary convention, following a disappointing result in the presidential election. Some 177 party members backed his move. İnce, however, lost that bid 740 to 415.

In February this year, Kılıçdaroğlu once again beat İnce with 790 votes to 447 after he called for a "Justice and Courage" congress.

İnce was first elected as a CHP lawmaker from his hometown of Yalova in northwest Turkey in 2002.

A former physics teacher, İnce received more votes – 8 percentage points – than his party in the June 24 elections. The CHP received 22.6 percent in the parliamentary elections while İnce received 30.6 percent of votes in the presidential elections.

Yesterday, İnce told reporters that he issued a notarized statement, promising that "he will not stick to the post, if he becomes the party chairman, and will hold an extraordinary convention within 45 days if he is not elected in the next presidential elections."

İnce also slammed incumbent Kılıçdaroğlu for not becoming the party's presidential candidate and added that Kılıçdaroğlu will most likely not be a candidate in the next presidential elections as well.

He said a party must have sufficient time, with the right leadership, to prepare for elections, and that the announcement of his candidacy 45 days ahead of elections "was not sufficient."

In a televised interview Sunday, İnce said that reaching the required number of signatures was not enough and that they should reach 900-1000 signatures from delegates. If they failed to do so he would step aside. However, later in the interview, he denied making this comment.

During the petition process, both dissidents and the party administration made statements suggesting a change. However, while one side emphasized a change in the chairmanship position, the other underlined a need for change in the Central Executive Board (MYK).

While the CHP administration has been arguing that a petition will only harm the party, ahead of the upcoming local elections, İnce and dissidents have said that the CHP administration itself is the reason behind previous failures and should be eliminated if they wanted to claim victory in the local elections.

In response to the dissidents' remarks on the CHP's failures, Bülent Tezcan, vice chairman and spokesman of the party, said yesterday that one should not seek a solution in conventions or change in the chairmanship position.

Speaking to the Turkish language daily, Hürriyet, he said that if the solution was among those choices, the CHP would have been successful after every election.

Meanwhile, Tuncay Özkan, vice chairman of the party, commented on İnce's comments directed toward him.

İnce had previously stated that Özkan was spreading rumors about the miserable state İnce was in after his failure in the June 24 election.

"He is not only ordinary and rude but also a traducer. Those who cannot prove what they have said are dishonorable. There is no place for liars in the CHP," Özkan said to Turkish media yesterday.

Kılıçdaroğlu became the CHP head after his predecessor Deniz Baykal's resignation following a sex tape scandal in 2010. As the CHP's leader, he has since lost in every election held in the country.

The CHP leader has often been criticized on a wide range of issues, ranging from poor performances in elections and referendums to his overall leadership style in the party.

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