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Unfortunate CHP #TurkishElections2018

Unfortunate CHP <a class="hashtagger" href="">#TurkishElections2018</a>

What can a political party do to kill its own electoral prospects? There might be several answers to this question. “Whatever list [of parliamentary candidates] we produced would have been criticized. We agreed on this list,” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said in response to harsh attacks over the list that did not include most of the current deputies of the party.

Naturally, rejuvenation should have been considered by all parties in preparing the list of candidates for parliament. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) did. The Good (İYİ) Party did not have such a problem as it had just been established but it had a different tricky situation: How to satisfy expectations of an army of parliamentary hopefuls in a party that received the second highest applications after the ruling AKP?

These are of course the most difficult days for all parties. Thank God there is a deadline to submit the lists of candidates. Though for the next few days the discussions might continue, the issue has come to an official termination. Still, what disgruntled politicians do against their parties might have an impact on their election performances.

Whoever is missing on the AKP and even the İYİ Party lists may not be that important, as the probable flashback will probably be far less than what I expect in the CHP. İlhan Cihaner, the chief prosecutor hunted during the Ergenekon thriller period was kicked aside.

Ali Şeker, Eren Erdem and Barış Yarkadaş were pushed out of the list as well. Former Cumhuriyet editor and also an Ergenekon spree victim Mustafa Balbay was also left out of the list. Of course, there were still hours for the deadline to submit the lists when this article was penned but there was no expectation that any of these important and symbolic names may manage a comeback.

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Was Kılıçdaroğlu in a fight with Muharrem İnce, the presidential candidate of the party? If not, why were almost all names close to İnce denied a place on the CHP list of candidates? That was a very meaningful situation for the traumatic escalation that might start in the CHP after a parliamentary electoral defeat. İnce himself cannot be a candidate as presidential candidates cannot run for parliament as well. Was İnce’s nomination a strategical maneuver by Kılıçdaroğlu? Was President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s “Kemal must have wanted to eradicate you by making you a presidential candidate” joke to İnce during their meeting an experienced guess?

Will the CHP be able to bury the antagonism and sour feelings the lists created or will there be an internal fight? There will probably be a very difficult period ahead for Kılıçdaroğlu if the CHP vote falls below the 2015 vote of 24.5 percent on June 24 because of the disgruntled old guard.

In any way, Kılıçdaroğlu was right that whatever list he and the party executive produced would be criticized. For a party with a tradition of by-elections, allowing the party leader and the party executive to prepare the lists would be particularly problematic. The decision of the AKP-MHP parliamentary coalition to go to snap presidential polls and presidential elections unfortunately left no room to spend with establishing the lists through by-elections.

Politics is a difficult game. All incumbents need not be re-elected at every election, otherwise there would not be a rejuvenation in politics. But did the CHP make a list for rejuvenation or was its list of candidates a product of an effort to move the party to a center-right place on the political spectrum? The nomination of some Islamist conservatives, including Abdüllatif Şener, while leaving out some appreciated names of the left will not be easy for traditional voters of the CHP to accept.
So unfortunate for the CHP.

About The Author

Yusuf Kanli

Born in Cyprus in 1959, Yusuf Kanlı is a graduate of the English Language and Literature Department of the Faculty of Letters of the Ankara University. He started journalism with the Turkish Daily News in 1978. Until he briefly left the paper in 1985 (for military service in Northern Cyprus) he served as diplomatic correspondent, assistant foreign news editor and assistant editor. During this period he was as well one of the two co-authors of an annual reference book on Turkey, “Turkey Almanac”. After completing his military service he returned the Daily News as assistant editor. In 1989 he became executive editor and also started writing daily opinion articles. He continued to be one of the co-authors of the “Turkey Almanac” annual reference book. In February 1993, over differences with the publisher on editorial policy, he quit the paper and joined the Anatolia News Agency (AA) as deputy foreign news chief. He stayed with the Anatolia News Agency until September 1995. In this period, he covered the Armenia-Azerbaijan war over Nogorno-Karabagh, covered developments in the post-independence Central Asian republics. Because of his refusal as the duty editor to run a manipulated news story demanded by the then lady prime minister of the country, he was fired from the AA, a development that Kanlı considers as his “medal of honor” in the profession. On his return to the Daily News for a third time in October 1995, he first became an editor at large but soon assumed the responsibility of electronic publishing and established Turkey’s first daily updated English language news web site, the TDN Online on May 19, 1996 (now In January 1997, he became executive editor of the Daily News for a second time and stayed in that post until he was appointed as editor-in-chief in June 2004. In February 2007, he quit all executive duties and became a contract columnist of the newspaper. He has been also writing weekly articles in Turkish for a variety of newspapers and news portals in Northern Cyprus. He is a former chairperson and the honorary chairperson of Diplomacy Correspondents Association (DMD) of Turkey, an active member of Association of Foreign Policy Council, a member of the executive board and vice chairperson of the Association of Journalists and coordinator of the Press for Freedom project, which has been monitoring and reporting on press and freedom of expression issues in Turkey since 2013. He has been a member of several associations and foundations, mostly established by Turkish Cypriots living in Turkey or abroad. He is married to Dr. Aydan Kanlı and has one daughter, Cansu. He has Turkish, Turkish Cypriot and Cypriot triple nationality.

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