Duvar English

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) member İlhan Cihaner has announced his candidacy for party leadership ahead of the party’s congress.

“The leadership of the CHP is a post that can change the world. We want to change our country and then the world,” Cihaner told reporters on July 23.

In addition to Cihaner, the party’s current leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is competing for the post. Congress honorary member Prof. Tolga Yarman and former deputy Aytuğ Atıcı said that they would be running as well.

Kılıçdaroğlu has been the party leader since 2010.

During his announcement, Cihaner said that the CHP is needed for the future and the party also has needs.

“The CHP’s strongest managing body should the party assembly. We need leaders who are representatives of the party assembly selected by the members and not the leader. We need a party of the people and not a party of the leader,” he said, while stressing the importance of participation to decision-making processes.

“We don’t need lawmakers who comply with the decisions adopted by the leader, but we need a Central Executive Board and a party assembly that members, delegates and lawmakers participate in decision-making processes. I’m a candidate for party leadership as one of the people aiming to turn these principles to party rules,” Cihaner added.

Cihaner concluded his speech by saying that the party and the country need democracy.

“What we need is courage!” he said.

The CHP is planning to hold its 37th congress on July 25-26, implementing specific precautions due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

The assembly will be held in a space with a capacity of 4,000, though only 2,000 will be allowed in attendance in order to abide by social distancing guidelines. Spectators will not be admitted to the assembly and only party officials and delegates will attend. 

Rather than invitations, Kılıçdaroğlu sent out 3,000 letters to representatives from other political parties, civil society leaders, and former CHP officials expressing regret that the party would not be able to invite them to the general assembly due to the Covid-19 precautions. 

A key list of 70 people is being prepared to form the CHP’s party assembly, and according to party sources, rather than notable figures, the list is expected to consist of people that can effectively organize and are active on the field. It will also include more space for women and younger people from the generation Z.

Kılıçdaroğlu is expected to release a manifesto detailing the party’s targets were it to be selected as the ruling party in the next general election, such as establishing a new constitution, achieving a democratic parliamentary system, and sustaining press freedom and an independent judiciary.