site.btaWhat's Going On in Turkish Opposition?
The Turkish opposition is experiencing a significant upheaval after their defeat in the parliamentary elections on May 14. In the May 28 presidential runoff, the candidate of the united six-party opposition, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, received 47.82% of the vote against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who won a third term with 52.18%.
The turmoil in the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), the oldest political force in Turkiye created by the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, is particularly evident.
In the parliamentary elections on May 14, the CHP managed to win 169 parliamentary seats, but since a number of candidates of the other parties of the opposition alliance ran in the elections as part of the CHP’s lists, the actual number of deputies that this political force ended up with was 130. Ali Babacan's DEVA party got 14 deputies, Ahmet Davutoglu's Future Party - 10, Temel Karamollaoglu's Felicity Party - 10, Democrat Party - three, and the Good Party and Party for Change in Turkiye - one each. This resulted in 39-seats less in Parliament for the CHP and the weakest parliamentary election result ever for the party.
Many described this strategy as extremely flawed. It provoked sharp criticism of Kilicdaroglu and demands for resignations made as early as the evening of May 28, the date of the presidential runoff.
Party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who was nominated as a presidential candidate by the opposition Nation Alliance, lost the vote against Erdogan as well as the chance to be a member of Parliament. Although he is the leader of the CHP, Kilicdaroglu will not be allowed to participate in the meetings of the parliamentary group of his party and to speak in front of the deputies.
After the defeat in the second round of the presidential election on May 28, the members of the party's central committee, the so-called A Group of the CHP, unanimously resigned and their resignations were accepted by Kilicdaroglu.
Only Kilicdaroglu remained in the leadership post, although very strong demands were made for his resignation as early as the night after the presidential vote.
In his first statement after the result was announced, Kilicdaroglu said: "There is no stopping. We keep fighting until a victorious end", with which he confirmed that he is not about to give up the leadership post.
As for the Table of Six, the pre-election coalition of six opposition forces, there is no official statement regarding its future yet. However, the Secretary General of the Good Party Ugur Poyraz, stated that it actually disbanded after the elections.
Analysts close to the opposition claim that dozens of local structures of the CHP are demanding fundamental changes and, most importantly, the resignation of Kilicdaroglu.
"Kilicdaroglu must decide for himself whether to resign or not. I think the Table of Six should be kept until the local elections. Success should be achieved, but I don't think it can happen, it seems difficult. We need to attract more young people and women to the party," commented a representative of the CHP, who wished to remain anonymous.
Experts explained why it is difficult to replace a party leader in Turkey without his own will. According to political scientist Ilter Turan, Turkey's political party law favours leaders. "The leadership structure of the Turkish political parties is oligarchic, which is where the difficulties arise for changing a given leader," he commented. "The organizational structure, nomination methods and many other factors support the leadership oligarchy, which complicates the functioning of democracy. In other words, a leader can leave the party only if he himself asks for it," added Turan.