Republican People's Party (CHP) Yalova deputy Muharrem İnce announced his bid for the CHP leadership in a press conference on Monday, as the CHP goes through a period of uncertainty following its failure to substantially increase its share of the vote in the Nov. 1 general election.
Pointing out that Turkey did not have a single-party government before the snap election of Nov. 1, İnce said that the party is going through an extraordinary period. “I speak to the conscience of Turkey: How can a CHP that has lost six elections [under the leadership of CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu] win three elections in 2019?” he asked.
Turkey is scheduled to hold a parliamentary election, a local election and a presidential election in 2019.
According to the unofficial result of the Nov. 1 election, the main opposition CHP only slightly increased its share of the vote, winning 25.3 percent -- up only 0.4 percent from the 24.9 percent it won in the June 7 general election. The party won 132 seats in Parliament in the previous election and will now be represented by 134 deputies. The CHP did not manage to win any deputies in 35 provinces.
“Would anyone retain the services of a lawyer who had lost six cases?” İnce said, adding: “Turkey needs the CHP and the CHP needs a big change. The country is being lost. This administration cannot weather the storm.”
“Some people can love their chairs too much,” he said, referring to Chairman Kılıçdaroğlu refusing to resign as leader. “Our main concern is the country,” he added.
İnce claimed that he will begin collecting the support of delegates “as of tomorrow” in his bid to replace Kılıçdaroğlu as the head of the party. “I will sign the petition, as will my friends. The right thing is to call an extraordinary assembly immediately,” he said.
The CHP is expected to hold its annual congress in either December or early 2016 and Kılıçdaroğlu is likely to see his leadership challenged due to the party's failure to substantially increase its number of deputies. Kılıçdaroğlu said in a press statement late on the election night that the result had placed further responsibility on the party's shoulders. Underlining that his party respects the election results, the CHP leader said decisive steps toward change would be made in his party.
In the congress in September 2014, İnce unsuccessfully ran against Kılıçdaroğlu for the party chairmanship but managed to attain more votes than many expected. İnce received 415 votes, despite being nominated as a candidate by only 177 delegates before the congress.
The leadership debate in the CHP has been heated up recently by another deputy, Umut Oran, announcing his candidacy.
On Sunday alone, 42 former provincial heads from the CHP who are still active delegates despite losing their provincial posts called on the party to hold an extraordinary assembly in an effect to challenge Kılıçdaroğlu. Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, former Ankara provincial head Zeki Alçın said: “The Nov. 1 election ended in failure for the CHP. The first thing the CHP needs to do is to accept the failure without hiding behind any excuses and to provide solutions.”
The call by the former provincial heads come days after Oran, a former CHP İstanbul deputy, called on Kılıçdaroğlu to hold an extraordinary congress as soon as possible to restore trust in the party after its failure.
Oran announced his candidacy for the party's chairmanship in a press conference in Ankara on Wednesday. “I call on all CHP supporters to make a change for the transformation of the party; I am ready to take the responsibility [and become its chairman] to help the CHP rule the country,” he said.
CHP deputy Barış Yarkadaş has voiced his support for Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, telling reporters outside the İstanbul Courthouse on Monday that he would vote for the incumbent leader of the party.
Claiming that the CHP does not have a leadership problem, Yarkadaş added: “My personal view is this: I will vote for our Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. I believe Kılıçdaroğlu will lead the party as it deserves to be led.”