Muharrem İnce, a prominent member of and former presidential candidate from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has openly criticized party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for “cracking down” on the dissident voices within the party as rumors swirl that he might be launching a party by the end of this year.
“You will sideline all the lawmakers, mayors and delegates for asking a change [at the party] and then you will build castles in the air with your friends. Who is divisive?” İnce said on Twitter late Aug. 5 in his first remarks after reports suggested that he is mulling to split from the CHP.
İnce was the CHP’s presidential candidate in June 2018 polls but lost against Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as he garnered more than 30 percent of votes. He later had indirectly accused Kılıçdaroğlu of not pledging enough support to him. However, his disappearance on the election night when the votes were still being counted created a deep mistrust against him from within the CHP ranks and the electorate.
What deepened the fracture was rumors that İnce had a secret meeting with President Erdoğan late 2019. İnce accused the CHP headquarters as the source of this rumor and for tarnishing his image within the social democrats. The story that had suggested this had later been proved to be false and the author of the piece had to apologize to the CHP and İnce.
Since then, the cool air between İnce and Kılıçdaroğlu has continued and worsened after the CHP’s general convention late July. İnce, who once tried to topple Kılıçdaroğlu did not run against him in the latest convention but supported some like-minded dissident members’ attempt to enter the 60-member Party Assembly. The internal elections proved Kılıçdaroğlu’s ultimate leadership at the party at the expense of İnce’s frustration.
In the aftermath of the convention, reports quoting some close associates of İnce suggested that he was in a decision-making process to quit the party and to hit the road for a new political movement with an emphasis of the republican values.
Sources close to İnce suggest that his party will not join any existing alliance and will run independently in the next elections. “I am against both the government and the opposition,” he was quoted by these sources.
The CHP headquarters, however, has long been keeping silence over the reports. Official reaction from the party will follow after İnce makes his own case clear and shares it with the public.
Hurriyet Daily News