For the delegates of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) this time of the year is the most exciting, even more so than the general elections.
Delegates of CHP from all around Turkey gathered in Ankara to elect the new leadership of the party. This is CHP as we know it. Nobody wants to be a simple member or delegate, everybody wants a title, everybody wants a say in the policymaking. This characteristic also makes CHP hard to lead and even keep in order sometimes. There are always different fractions within the party, and many who are not satisfied by the existing leadership. This congress is also not different. Nearly half of the delegates are candidates for the Party Assembly which has 60 members. Everybody wants a chair somewhere. It is unlikely for Kılıçdaroğlu to be toppled. However supporters of Muharrem İnce, have filled the hall; they are chanting “we are the soldiers of Mustafa Kemal!”
Not all the members are filled with joy and enthusiasm though. This time the name of the CHP congress is “Justice and Courage Congress”. Old guard of the party is offended by the name; they claim such a name implies CHP was not courageous before. The old guard is also stressing the fact that there are no Ataturk posters on the walls. There are young faces in the congress hall, however seasoned members of the party are disappointed. One of the ex MPs 23rd term Mersin MP Ali Rıza Öztürk, complains, they had had Erdal İnönü and such as the party chairman once, he thinks none of the existing candidates are suitable for CHP.
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu entered the hall with chants and applauses. The program started with the “justice” video playing on the big screen. Video covers maybe the only significant movement CHP achieved, last year, the justice march. The only voice over belongs to Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in the video. Voice over emphasizes justice for everyone. Kılıçdaroğlu underlines CHP is respectful to the “faithful”. Scenes where Kılıçdaroğlu walks arm in arm with veiled ladies are spread in the video. Kılıçdaroğlu took the stage right after the video. He started his speech by sending regards to former chairman Deniz Baykal and Enis Berberoğlu, the CHP MP who is still in prison. Kılıçdaroğlu’s speech is time to time cut with the slogans “Right, Law, Justice”