Müzeyyen Yüce/ Duvar

A former envoy and deputy from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), who was dismissed from the party following his controversial statements, is set to found his own party.

Öztürk Yılmaz, who is currently an independent deputy from the northeastern province of Ardahan, was sacked from the CHP in 2018 after saying that the Islamic call to prayer should be read in Turkish rather than Arabic and for blasting the party’s leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

Yılmaz made headlines five years ago when ISIS militants stormed Turkish Consulate in Mosul on June 11, 2014, holding 49 consulate personnel and their families captive, including then-Consul General Yılmaz. The hostages were safely returned to Turkey after 101 days of captivity.

He now intends to found his own opposition party, while continuing to criticize both the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as well as his former party, saying that the latter’s relevance ended when the referendum to transform Turkey’s parliamentary system into an executive presidential system passed in April 2017, an initiative heavily championed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

“Turkey’s judiciary, press, and politics is witnessing its worst era in history. There is a process of destruction occurring in the country. People are demeaning themselves to the point where they have hope in those who split from the AKP,” Öztürk said, referring to the newly-formed opposition party by former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu – a former Erdoğan ally who since fallen out with the president and established his own party late last year. 

“When we look at the current system, it’s name can be called ‘Tayyipocracy.’ I’m afraid that in 2023, Tayyip Erdoğan will establish a federation in Turkey,” said Yılmaz, referencing the next general elections set to be held in 2023. 

Despite the fact that the three opposition parties in Turkey agreed upon an unofficial understanding to support a single opposition candidate in Turkey’s local elections of last year, resulting in an opposition victory for almost every single major city in Turkey, Yılmaz claims that there is no national opposition in the country, and doesn’t credit the CHP for the success in the 2019 elections. 

“The victories in the big cities in the local elections is not the success of the CHP and Kılıçdaroğlu. Everyone against Erdoğan were united and the coalition benefited from that. The elections were won in spite of Kılıçdaroğlu. You might notice that he didn’t speak, because he was told not to. There is a force that is against the government in Turkey and we will be behind that force,” Yılmaz said. 

“Rather than forming a classic party, we are establishing a new structure. We will recommend a new agricultural model for Turkey. We will not import any products that can be grown in Turkey. We will manage agricultural land that is not being used. We will meet with the people, and concern ourselves with their real problems,” said Yılmaz of his party’s program, adding that there has been significant interest from the CHP in his new initiative.