CHP on verge of division over Istanbul candidates

There seems to be trouble ahead for the main opposition as two potentially strong candidates have announced their intentions to run for mayor of Istanbul

CHP on verge of division over Istanbul candidates

There seems to be trouble ahead for the Republican People’s Party (CHP) as two potentially strong candidates have announced their intentions to run for mayor of Istanbul, arguably the most important city for all political parties in next year’s municipal elections.

CHP Deputy Chairman Gursel Tekin announced on Monday that he intends to run for mayor. This comes at a time when many were expecting the popular Sisli mayor, Mustafa Sarigul, a former CHP member who was expelled from the party for challenging the leadership of former CHP Chairman Deniz Baykal in 2009, to return to the CHP and act as its mayoral nominee. A major problem for the CHP in the current situation is that although Sarigul was expected to come back to the CHP, he hasn’t filed an official request to return to the party.

The CHP openly asked Sarigul to apply to the party to initiate his eventual comeback, but Sarigul may have other plans. Some observers say the Turkey Change Movement (TDH), a political movement led by Sarigul, might be merging with the CHP. Sarigul has also made it no secret that he would like to lead the CHP and that the office of mayor is not his end-goal.

Observers say that Sarigul’s return, nomination and the possible merger of his TDH are likely to disturb some factions inside the CHP. In fact, his return could lead to a complete division inside the party.

Savci Sayan, a former member of the CHP’s Central Executive Committee (MYK) told Today’s Zaman that Tekin’s announcement of his intention to run as a mayoral candidate further complicates the issue. “Tekin’s announcement is a strategic move from the CHP headquarters, but the fact that Sarigul hasn’t applied for a return despite a public call from CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu is tying the headquarters’ hands. Kilicdaroglu is trying to force Sarigul to return to the CHP through Tekin’s announcement. But Sarigul, who was expelled from the party, doesn’t want to be in a situation where he will be asking to be accepted back. The fact that tension has been climbing is actually strengthening Sarigul’s position. And the CHP leader wants to send out the message, via Tekin’s candidacy, that he is not desperately in need of Sarigul.”

Sayan says the loser in the equation is likely to be the CHP and that the party’s current leader does not have the capacity to solve problems. He accused the party administration of having killed the CHP and starting a fight over inheritance. “Mr. Kilicdaroglu might be well-meaning, but the CHP is being run by forces outside its leaders. Tekin, in his statement, said that he doesn’t have a group lobbying for him, which is an indication of weakness.”

Sayan also said that Sarigul was using this situation to conduct a successful PR campaign. “Sarigul will never run a race that he would lose.” He added: “The Şişli office, which is in the bag, is more important then his İstanbul nomination -- a race he will lose. He is putting on an act to make the CHP look guilty for not depicting him as a candidate. He knows that when the CHP is defeated in the municipal elections Kiliçdaroglu’s leadership seat will be rocked. Publicly announcing that his ultimate goal is CHP leadership, he is ensuring that he will not be nominated. He is also gathering supporters inside the CHP and sending the message to kingpins inside the party that he is preparing the grounds for his eventual leadership. So this puts the CHP in a serious dilemma. It is a huge problem if he runs for mayor, and it is still a huge problem if he doesn’t. At least ten CHP deputies will resign the day his candidacy is announced. His return will not be accepted by Baykal supporters and the neo-nationalist faction of the CHP.”

Early division in MYK

In fact, a rift has already started to form inside the CHP. There are now two camps inside the CHP’s MYK: one rooting for Tekin and the other for Sarigul. Adnan Keskin, a CHP deputy chairman and number two, and Faruk Logoglu, another deputy chairman, are supporting Sarigul’s candidacy while Deputy Chairman Sezgin Tanrikulu and Secretary-General Bihlun Tamayligil are supporting Tekin. Istanbul Provincial Chapter President Oguz Salici is also closer to Sarigul, sources say.

Those who support Sarigul believe that he has a good chance of winning in Istanbul, as he is well-liked by most voters. Tekin supporters believe that Sarigul’s only intention is to challenge party leadership. Gokhan Gunaydin, the CHP deputy chairman in charge of local administrations, said he welcomed the candidacy of both Tekin and Sarigul. He said Sarigul can easily return to the party with a secret vote in the Party Council (PM). He said the party will nominate the best candidate for Istanbul and also said that those who want to run should put aside personal rivalries and work for the good of the party.

Cihan

Last Mod: 07 Ekim 2013, 21:56
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