Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on July 21 denied reportings about Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu’s remarks against Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s party leadership.
On July 21, a 4-hour long meeting was held with CHP mayors and Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu at the party headquarters in the capital Ankara.
Some journalists reported that İmamoğlu told Kılıçdaroğlu during the meeting that “If you continue as the party leader, I will not (take part) in the (2024) local elections.”
In a statement from the CHP Verification account, the party denied the reportings and said they are “untrue.”
“At the meeting, the upcoming local election agenda and presidential elections were discussed, and all our respected mayors expressed their thoughts and suggestions. However, the above expression, which was tried to be popularized by the public, was not used. Regards,” the party said.
2- Toplantıda, gelecek yerel seçim gündemi ve Cumhurbaşkanlığı seçimleri değerlendirmeleri yapılmış olup, tüm saygın belediye başkanlarımız düşünce ve önerilerini açıklamışlardır.— CHP Doğrulama (@ChpDogrulama) July 22, 2023
Ancak, kamuoyunda yaygınlaştırılmaya çalışılan yukarıdaki ifade kullanılmamıştır.
On the other hand, İmamoğlu in the meeting once again expressed his call for radical change within the party following the electoral loss, Nergis Demirkaya from Gazete Duvar reported.
Accordingly, İmamoğlu said that the CHP voters feel distanced towards the party after the electoral loss and added "We have to ask why (the AKP) have been in power for 26 years, why we are losing. We have to identify this and face our own mistakes. Change is a must."
Moreover, İmamoğlu also criticized Kılıçdaroğlu’s remarks about the leaked Zoom meeting footage.
Kılıçdaroğlu previously said he found “ethically problematic sides” in the leaked video of a 14-minute long footage of a Zoom meeting attended by Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu and CHP executives who demand change within the party.
Accordingly, İmamoğlu said during today's meeting that “I have no apology to ask from you,” adding that these kinds of meetings are natural within the party.
Pointing to the party convention that was planned to be held later in 2023, Kılıçdaroğlu reportedly said, “Find someone who will embrace the party culture and history, bring it to me tomorrow. I did not willingly become the party chair. But I have given my due in the process of my duty.”
Moreover, CHP Eskişehir Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Yılmaz Büyükşerşen suggested the party convention to be held after the 2024 local elections.
Kılıçdaroğlu lost the presidential election against Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by receiving 47.82 percent of the votes in the second round of the race on May 28.
Aside from the presidential election, the CHP received 25.41 percent of the votes in the May 14 parliamentary elections, falling short of expectations, ending up having 169 seats in the parliament out of 600 while leaving the majority to the ruling alliance. 39 deputies out of 169 were from other alliance parties.
Although there is a strong consensus for a need for change for CHP leadership, Kılıçdaroğlu has not shown any willingness in this regard.
İmamoğlu on various occasions stated that a radical change is needed within the party following the electoral loss.