Opposition CHP Divided Over Number of Delegates For Holding New Congress
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) is divided over the exact number of delegates needed to hold a new party congress after a group of party officials affiliated with presidential candidate Muharrem Ince submitted a list of signatures to the CHP administration in a push for the congress.
On Thursday, after weeks of wrangling and intra-party dissensions, pro-Ince factions finally presented the petition containing 630 names to party headquarters in Ankara to set a date for party congress.
According to CHP bylaws and party procedure, those who seek a party congress need the support of at least 630 delegates. Muharrem Ince expressed his appreciation and gratitude for colleagues who put their names on the petition.
But soon after the submission of the official request, the party leadership announced that there were not enough signatures within the document required by the party bylaws.
CHP Deputy Chairman Muharrem Erkek dismissed the intra-party opponents’ claim for 630 delegates and said the number of signatures is not enough to hold a congress.
His statement signals a potential, prolonged showdown ahead within the party, which slid into a deepening contest between rival groups.
Recently, there is a growing feud between incumbent CHP Chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu and Ince who ran against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the presidential election on June 24 as CHP candidate.
Ince’s electoral performance was better than his party’s lackluster standing in the parliamentary elections. He won 8 percent more votes than his party, which garnered around 22 percent of the entire votes.
The party is split over whether there would be a new congress for a leadership change. The last party congress took place in February and Kilicdaroglu had a narrow win over against his contender Ince.
The two figures buried their rivalry when Kilicdaroglu named Ince as CHP’s presidential candidate for the June 24 election. But the old competition to steer the direction of CHP resurfaced again in the aftermath of the election as the party descended into a soul-searching mode after the poor showing.
Ince has a growing and dedicated support base while Kilicdaroglu retains loyalty among CHP rank-and-file. He blamed Ince for pursuing self-promotion and selfish interests amid an existential political crisis. In return, Ince accused the incumbent CHP leader and other party stalwarts of resignation to Erdogan’s one-man rule, railing against the defeatist mood that he says captured the entire party.
He vows to eliminate inertia within the CHP and put a more active, formidable opposition to the president’s ever-deepening authoritarian administration.
Currently, the CHP appears to be bogged down in a squabble among two factions over the soul and future of Turkey’s ‘grand old party,’ while the country embroiled in a new and escalating diplomatic spat with the U.S.