Kılıçdaroğlu says will 'hand over' party leadership to a social democrat

Speaking before the general congress, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said he would “hand over” the party leadership to a social democrat in case he would run again. His comments drew ire as people said Kılıçdaroğlu was undermining democracy within the party.

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Turkish main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kııçdaroğlu said on Oct. 28 that he would run for the party leadership again “to leave the ship (CHP) to a safe port.” 

In an interview with the daily Sözcü, Kılıçdaroğlu said “I never said 'I am a candidate (for the party leadership)', but if the organization nominates me, I will run again.”

When asked why he would run again, Kılıçdaroğlu said “to leave the ship to a safe port. I will hand (the party leadership) over to a knowledgeable, good social democrat. We need to maintain CHP's hundred years of experience.” Some say that Kılıçdaroğlu’s intention is to leave the party leadership after the 2024 local elections to be held on March 31.

When asked if there is such a person among the current candidates, he said “Yes, but he needs to become visible,” probably referring to CHP parliamentary group chair Özgür Özel.

Kılıçdaroğlu’s remarks drew ire as people said Kılıçdaroğlu was undermining democracy within the party.

“There is not the slightest taking of responsibility, regret or self-criticism regarding the elections. Kılıçdaroğlu, who sees CHP as his personal property, does not foresee democratic competition even at the level of discourse. The opposition must first overthrow its own authoritarian leader and take its destiny into its own hands. Kılıçdaroğlu does not deserve that seat,” political scientist Berk Esen said.

Following Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s electoral defeat against Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the presidential race in addition to the party's failure to meet expectations of near 30 percent vote share in the general elections, some CHP seniors have demanded a radical change in party leadership and management, including Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, and party leader candidate Özgür Özel.

The party has now been divided into two camps, "status quoists" who want to keep Kılıçdaroğlu as the party leader and "revisionists" who demand a radical change within the party.

CHP’s general congress will be held on Nov. 4-5 in a race between “status quoists” and “revisionists.”