Former MP Cihaner announces candidacy for CHP leadership

Former main opposition CHP lawmaker İlhan Cihaner has announced that he will run for the CHP leadership ahead of the party's general congress that is expected to be held later in this year. Cihaner has been challenging Kılıçdaroğlu and his politics for a long time, accusing him for moving the party away from the left.

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Former CHP lawmaker İlhan Cihaner has announced his candidacy for the CHP leadership in the upcoming general congress of the party that is expected to be held later in this year. Cihaner has been challenging Kılıçdaroğlu and his policies for a long time.

Cihaner told journalist İsmail Saymaz in an interview that he will be a candidate because he wants to see a leftist CHP.

In the previous CHP congress in 2020, Cihaner once again announced his candidacy but failed to secure enough signatures to run for the post.

In the interview, Cihaner said “At the moment, we cannot even defend human rights regarding LGBTI rights (within the CHP).”

Cihaner once again stated that CHP is moving towards the right-wing under Kılıçdaroğlu’s leadership and criticized forming an alliance with far-right anti-immigrant Victory Party (ZP).

“I think that the last appointment of Kılıçdaroğlu to the advisory position indicates that the center-right policies that have been followed so far have been abandoned and a more nationalist stance close to the ZP has been adopted,” Cihaner said referring to Kılıçdaroğlu’s appointment of former ZP executive Gökşen Anıl Ulukuş as his advisor.

Speaking about the mistakes that have been made during the electoral campaign, Cihaner said “The party adopted a conservative nationalist language. Instead of confronting the AKP and MHP government with an alternative political language, (the CHP) said, ‘We need to talk like them.’ The CHP joined the right bloc. The Table of Six was formed as a right alliance against the right. The nomination of two CHP mayors as vice-presidential candidates created confusion. The presidential candidate was chosen late.”

Cihaner said he would resign if he was CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and declare that he would not run for the CHP leadership again. He said without change within the party, defeat will be inevitable in the 2024 local elections, whether Kılıçdaroğlu resigns or not.

Cihaner said he wants to see a leftist CHP because “That's not how the Left builds alliances (as Table of Six). The Left cannot ignore secularism. It takes bold steps from education to privatization policies. A left party establishes organic ties with labor organizations. It becomes the main actor of the environmental struggle. It cannot choose presidential candidates from political Islamists. There is no leftism by commemorating Deniz Gezmiş one day and Adnan Menderes the next.”

Former public prosecutor Cihaner was CHP lawmaker between 2011-2018.

Although there is a strong consensus for a need for change for CHP leadership, Kılıçdaroğlu has not shown any willingness in this regard. On July 4, Kılıçdaroğlu said that his presidential loss to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan could not be named as a failure and that it would not matter if he was the CHP’s leader or not.

CHP Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu on various occasions stated that radical change is needed within the party.