Former Republican People’s Party (CHP) chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu stated that the reason he did not withdraw his candidacy after the first round of voting at the CHP congress, which allowed his rival Özgür Özel to be directly elected, was that their private conversation with Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu about withdrawing was leaked on social media immediately.
According to Kılıçdaroğlu’s interview with the daily Sözcü, he had a talk with İmamoğlu who was chairing the congress after the first round when Özel received 682 votes whereas Kılıçdaroğlu remained at 664, leading to a second round due to the absolute majority requirement.
"Let him (İmamoğlu) call Mr. Özgür and I will raise his hand," Kılıçdaroğlu said about his decision to withdraw after the first round. He added that before he even entered the hall, "An account close to İmamoğlu tweeted in a weird wording as if I was doing this with an instruction."
🚨 SON DAKİKA— EkremEdit (@ekremedit) November 4, 2023
🔥Ekrem İmamoğlu'nun önerisiyle Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu seçim yarışından çekiliyor. pic.twitter.com/fnBqnxKY4u
“This tweet really hurt me. What comes out of our mouths is instantly on social media, and it is as if I am fulfilling this with an instruction. This made me very uncomfortable,” Kılıçdaroğlu added.
Kılıçdaroğlu also noted that an earthquake survivor neighborhood head had screamed at him when he entered the hall about not withdrawing from the race and it had affected him very deeply.
Kılıçdaroğlu decided not to withdraw from the second round afterward.
In the second round, Özel received 812 votes whereas Kılıçdaroğlu remained at 536. Kılıçdaroğlu left the congress area before Özel’s victory was announced, raising criticisms that he did not publicly congratulate Özel on the congress night.
Asked whether he had any suggestions for new chair Özel, Kılıçdaroğlu said, "I am not in a position to make suggestions. I would like him to work, to reach large masses, and to grow the CHP. I am a member and former chair of our party. Of course, everyone is making efforts for our party to come to power and I will do the same."