Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who has come under fire within his party after another election loss against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), has refuted calls for his resignation.
“The pro-government media should know very well that there are no divisions between us. We are people loyal to our ideals and principles,” he told reporters on June 27 at the CHP headquarters.
His comments came amid widespread dismay over his leadership within the party, with some former CHP lawmakers, party assembly lawmakers and current deputies reportedly calling for his resignation after the party received 22 percent votes in the June 24 elections — less than previous elections. Most critics potentially want Muharrem İnce, the presidential candidate of the CHP, to become the leader of the party, which has caused tension between the two.
Slamming rumors over internal divisions in the party, the CHP leader said “Muharrem İnce is an asset for us. We are embracing him to the end.”
İnce, although lost the presidency to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, outperformed the CHP by garnering around 30 percent of the votes, 8 percent more than the CHP.
Many of Kılıçdaroğlu’s critics and CHP supporters have been wanting him to resign, saying has been an “ineffective opposition” against the ruling party, which has been in power for over a decade.
CHP supporters criticizing Kılıçdaroğlu’s leadership have been carrying out sit-in protests since the election results came out, gathering outside the headquarters to call for his resignation.
Gürsel Erol, a newly elected lawmaker for the CHP, announced on June 27 that he would join the sit-ins, demanding the party administration steps down. But he later called off his protest, saying intra-party debates should not harm the party.
Following the calls, Kılıçdaroğlu convened the party’s assembly with a disciplinary agenda, as party sources say the party management have not been comfortable with the way the CHP is being portrayed in the media with the internal divisions.
Kılıçdaroğlu also slammed pro-government media outlets’ coverage of the CHP, saying “the media which completely ignored us during the election campaign period is now reporting about us today with big headlines.”
After receiving 30 percent of the votes in the presidential race, İnce said in his first speech following the election on June 25 that he will continue “the fight,” while also adding that he had received higher votes than the CHP and gained votes the CHP hasn’t been able to “in 40 years.”
İnce previously challenged Kılıçdaroğlu twice for party leadership. His latest comments were seen as another attempt to run for party leadership. But the CHP leader on June 26 furiously refuted the claims there would be a race for party leadership, stressing “there is no place in the CHP for those who are seeking the [leadership] position.”
‘To visit all 81 provinces in Turkey’
İnce promised to not give up in the face of an election defeat and said he would begin his “struggle” by visiting all 81 provinces in Turkey, including those he hasn’t been able to visit during the election campaign.
“In all those 81 provinces that he [İnce] will visit, I instruct all my provincial heads to help him with anything he needs,” Kılıçdaroğlu said on June 27.
CHP members close to İnce have said they will not start an extraordinary congress process, according to sources who spoke to daily Cumhuriyet on June 27.
“However we will not ignore calls from those who are from the CHP core electorate base and those who are not members of the CHP but are supporters of İnce,” they reportedly added.
They’ve also said İnce and Kılıçdaroğlu will meet soon to overcome the difficulties.