The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP)'s parliamentary group officially announced on Friday that its candidate for the upcoming presidential elections on June 24 would be Muharrem İnce, its Yalova deputy.
İnce was seen as the strongest possible candidate by political circles close the party, while CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu made it clear that he will not run for president, a decision criticized by some party members as well.
Speaking after the announcement, İnce dodged questions by journalists saying that party's chairman Kılıçdaroğlu will make announcement today at 10 a.m. on the issue. "Don't hurry, and don't expect any information from me about this issue as our chairman will make an announcement soon. Everything is going to be all right when the right time comes," he said.
A strong rival against the current CHP chair Kılıçdaroğlu from within the party, İnce comes from a moderate conservative background. The 53-year-old deputy is also portrayed as a populist and a pragmatic figure. The CHP electoral base and party provincial branches reportedly support İnce, who has been a deputy of Yalova province for the CHP since 2002. İnce also failed twice to win against Kılıçdaroğlu for party chairmanship.
On Wednesday, sources close to the CHP told Daily Sabah that "the candidacy of İnce is seen almost as a final decision."
Several candidates had been mentioned as possible nominees until today. Political rumors also pointed to İlhan Kesici, if a consensus was not reached within the party on İnce. Kesici, 69, comes from a center-right background. Prior to joining politics with the CHP in 2007, Kesici was known for his political life at the center-right Motherland Party (ANAP). Kesici, who held several bureaucratic positions prior to being in active politics, is a low-key figure and has a pro-Western liberal worldview.
The CHP's inability to find a candidate against main rival, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has also irked the party's electoral base. The CHP's traditional center-left voters criticize the party for leaning towards possible center-right candidates.