site.btaShould Canan Kaftancioglu, One of the Most Influential Women in Turkish Politics, Step Down?

Should Canan Kaftancioglu, One of the Most Influential Women in Turkish Politics, Step Down?
Should Canan Kaftancioglu, One of the Most Influential Women in Turkish Politics, Step Down?
Canan Kaftancioglu (CHP press service via AP)

Last week, Turkey’s Court of Cassation ruled recently that one of the most influential women in the country’s politics, Canan Kaftancioglu, withdraw from politics coupled with a jail term of four years and 11 months, pronouncing her guilty on several charges, including for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 

Kaftancioglu heads the main opposition Republican People's Party's (CHP) Istanbul branch and is one of the strongest voices in it.

It is a little-known fact that Kaftancioglu largely engineered the CHP takeover in the municipal elections in 2019, when their Kemalist candidate, Ekrem Imamoglu, became mayor of Turkey’s largest city. In fact, he won twice, for the March elections were contested by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Imamoglu won by an even larger margin in June. The mayoralty had been held by AKP and its Islamist predecessors for the previous 25 years.

Besides being acknowledged as a key figure in the fight against Erdogan’s AKP policy, Kaftancioglu became the symbol of change in the main opposition Turkish party, until now dominated by men. 

Born in 1972, she rides a bike, has leftist views and is a known feminist. She holds a degree in medicine. 

After the municipal elections in 2019 she was convicted on three counts of insulting the president, a state official and the state and two of spreading terrorist propaganda after a series of tweets judged to have demeaned Erdogan. She was sentenced to 10 years in jail. The CHP appealed against the convictions to the Court of Cassation, which dismissed the two propaganda charges but upheld the other three. It reduced her prison term to four years, 11 months and 20 days.

CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu had urged all opposition lawmakers to gather outside the court to protest the rulings and supporters to convene in front of the party headquarters. She herself was there, as was Istanbul Mayor Imamoglu. 

"Many people stand behind Canan," Kilicdaroglu said in a statement. "A new life is about to begin for the people of this country. We shall establish a state in which people shall live freely," he announced, adding that the will of the people supporting Canan was greater than Erdogan and that justice would come to Turkey.

Hours later, the party’s Executive Council held an extraordinary meeting in Istanbul and decided that Kaftancioglu would continue to perform her duties as president of the CHP chapter in Istanbul, the opposition Cumhuriyet daily reported Kilicdaroglu as saying. He also announced that a rally, "The Voice of the People", initially planned for Bursa, would be held in Istanbul on May 21.

Meanwhile, the pro-government Yeni Akit declared frontpage that her crimes were "moral, rather than political" and that her statements had insulted the Turkish president, his family, the state and religious figures.

"This is not a punishment, but a pre-election move" was a title carried by the opposition Milliyet (parliamentary and presidential elections in Turkey are scheduled for June 2023). 

All leaders of the six opposition parties in Turkey united to return the parliamentary system of governance and were later reported to have declared support for Kaftancioglu, including Good Party leader Meral Aksener. Unconditional support and sharp criticism of Turkish justice also come from Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) leader Ali Babacan, Felicity Party leader Temel Karamollaoglu, Democrat Party (DP) leader Gultekin Uysal and Future Party (GP) leader Ahmet Davutoglu.

It is not yet clear whether Kaftancioglu will actually go to jail, for she has been tried on charges for publications dating nine years back. One way or another, she is yet another Turkish politician sentenced to jail, along with Republican People's Party  MP Enis Berberoglu and the leader of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas.

/MY/

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By 19:39 on 08.08.2022 Today`s news

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