Forty-five members of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) joined the ranks of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) yesterday because of discomfort over a secret alliance with the pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) for this month's local elections.
"They have engaged in dirty alliances on the eve of the upcoming elections behind closed doors, hiding from even their own party organization. These alliances were revealed when the candidate lists of mayors and member of city councils were submitted [to Turkey's Supreme Election Board (YSK)]," said Ramiz Kara, the former CHP party organization head of Bahçeköy neighborhood in Istanbul's Sarıyer district - the biggest neighborhood there.
Speaking at an AK Party ceremony welcoming the 45 members of the CHP Bahçeköy party organization, Kara stressed that people from the CHP administration whom they trusted has been cooperating with the pro-PKK HDP and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup, for the sake of winning the elections while undermining the future of the nation and the state.
Pointing out that the CHP administration could not stand the criticism despite their constant lectures on democracy, Kara added that they will support the AK Party's candidate for Sarıyer district municipality for this reason.
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 far-right Good Party (İP) amid fears of a possible backlash from its secular-nationalist voter base.
The HDP is known for its support of autonomy in regions where large Kurdish populations live. Also, some of its members have been charged for or accused of having links to the terrorist organization PKK that has been fighting the Turkish state for more than 30 years and left more than 40,000 dead. Its former co-leader, Selahattin Demirtaş, was arrested in November 2016 over terrorist propaganda.
On Sunday, the YSK announced the official candidate lists of the parties. According to these lists, the CHP fielded its own candidates in 904 election districts including 38 provinces. The party administration also has not changed its much-debated candidates despite the discussions from its party organizations, insisting on the candidacy of Mehmet Fatih Bucak for Şanlıurfa's Siverek and the candidacy of Ali Kılıç for Maltepe district of Istanbul.
Previously, the CHP party assembly called for an extraordinary convention to re-evaluate the party's mayoral candidates for İstanbul's Maltepe and Şanlıurfa's Siverek district, yet their demand was not accepted by the party administration. It was reported that CHP members urged the party leadership to cancel Bucak's candidacy due to his previous remarks about other mayoral candidates that were deemed incompatible with the CHP policies.
CHP has been in turmoil for some time now due to the candidate nomination process. The party administration and Kılıçdaroğlu, who failed to win in several elections, were blamed for nominating figures closer to their line at the expense of popular and experienced candidates with independent stances or ties to the intraparty opposition.
This, along with concessions to the far-right İP for their cooperation, led to numerous protests of party organizations and mass resignations on a local scale, while many prominent party members also left their positions.
Along with the CHP, the İP is also continuing to crumble with mass resignations. The İP Ağrı Provincial Youth Branches declared their mass resignations in a press briefing held yesterday. In relation to the issue, İP Ağrı Provincial Youth Branches' Head Emrah Aslan said that "the responsibility of this mass resignation does not belong to the provincial head or to the İP's provincial candidate for Ağrı. The sole responsible is the İP headquarters." Aslan underscored that their youth branches will support AK Party mayoral candidate Savcı Sayan in the upcoming elections due to AK Party's emphasis on youth and its innovative projects.