The CHP Party Assembly convened extraordinarily at General Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s behest with Mersin MP and Party Assembly member Fikri Sağlar on the agenda. Despite Sağlar denying his words and offering the defence that there were sentences in the report he had not said, he was remitted to the Supreme Disciplinary Board with his definitive expulsion sought by 38 approving and 19 dissenting votes. It has been learnt that Kılıçdaroğlu, addressing the opening of the meeting, said, ‘We know everything. The button has been pressed and the instruction given from the Palace to cause turmoil in this party. In response to this, some colleagues have aided this project wittingly, and some unwittingly.’
The CHP’s Sağlar criticised Kılıçdaroğlu for his ‘single-man style’ in an interview he gave to the regime-sponsored media machine. Sağlar’s comments were discussed at the Central Executive Committee and a resolution was passed unanimously at the Central Executive Committee for Sağlar to be referred to the Party Assembly, seeking his remission to the Supreme Disciplinary Board. On the same day, Kılıçdaroğlu gave notice in a message he sent to Party Assembly members that the Party Assembly would convene extraordinarily on Sunday 7 May with Sağlar on the agenda. Sağlar stands accused of acting through his comments in breach of the paragraph, ‘Acting in breach of the programme and the provisions of the Rule Book, engaging in attitudes and conduct incompatible with membership and the duties and responsibilities they have assumed in the party and supporting or contributing towards political campaigns and activities that are contrary to the party’s direction and basic principles’ constituting ‘Party Offences Warranting the Penalty of Definitive Expulsion’ contained in Article 70 providing for ‘Party Offences’ of the CHP’s Rule Book.
‘I deny the report’
From what has been learnt, Sağlar made a measured speech in his defence at the meeting. Sağlar, said, ‘I deny the report’ with reference to the headline that appeared in the pro-regime press, and offered the defence that certain of the statements contained in the report were not his. Despite these comments by Sağlar he continued to receive a rough reception at the meeting. It has been learnt that some members said that the penalty of expulsion was too severe and the penalties of censure or caution were warranted. CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu supposedly said that he had expected a comment denying the report from Sağlar in the intervening time, but things had currently come to a head with Sağlar failing to make a correction. Sağlar reportedly said that he had found himself undergoing disciplinary proceedings before he had found time to make a denial.
Sağlar: I am sorry
It has been learned that Sağlar asked Party Assembly members for their forgiveness at the meeting. With hostility gradually rising, Sağlar once more took the floor and said, ‘Words that I did not speak were put in the headline. I am sorry that I have caused the Party Assembly to convene thanks to such an event. I am sorry to have taken up the party’s time thanks to such an event.’
With these words coming as no consolation, Kılıçdaroğlu commented, ‘It is wrong to discuss internal party matters over this course of events. What matters is the existence of “no”. It is the joint responsibility of all of us to boost “no” not reduce it. It is not right to bring the party to Turkey’s public attention like this. I take a dim view of such things being done on the day the president became a party member. I do not find such things to be correct. We will preserve this unity. I accept internal party criticism and I am open to suggestions, but methods of this kind were ill-placed for the party, for Turkey and for “no”. Erdoğan’s party membership is not being discussed against this backdrop. Everyone will obey the party’s programme and rule book. I consider criticism and discussion to be correct, but I have never considered it to be correct to discuss the party in the public eye.’
Expulsion resolution emerges
The Party Assembly moved on to a secret vote after about six hours. Of the sixty-member Party Assembly, 59 people voted. At the conclusion of the vote, it was resolved with 38 approving, 19 dissenting and two abstaining votes for Sağlar to be remitted to the disciplinary board seeking his definitive expulsion.
It is said that one Party Assembly member also wished for former General Chair Deniz Baykal to be remitted to the disciplinary board. But the prevailing view in the corridors is that, despite his highly controversial comments about Abdullah Gül and the opponents, Baykal’s clout as former general chair came to his aid.
Harsh criticism for Böke
Another figure to court as much attention at the meeting as Sağlar was Selin Sayek Böke, who has resigned from her party posts. It is learnt that at the meeting, at which Böke came in for harsh criticism, it was said that there was a difference between her deeds and words, with one member even referring to her as a ‘so-called professor’. Böke, taking the floor following the harsh criticism, apparently said she would not engage in personal arguments, but was expressing her thoughts aloud as a ‘dissenting opinion’ and complained that absolutely no attention was paid to them. It has been learnt that Böke said, ‘My resignation is individual. I am resigning because I have had problems with being spokesperson and I respect the General Chair. I do not accept character assassination. It is wrong for me to continue following the bosom of the people debate. Had I continued, I would have stayed in office for its own sake but I have stepped down from my posts.’ On the other hand, it is reported that Böke said that ‘a different political clique’ took the decision at the Central Executive Committee, leading to a heightening of tension in the auditorium. Böke also apparently said that she had been elected to the Party Assembly with the highest vote and would continue her fight.
Böke accused of having a project
Böke’s words once more prompted harsh criticism. One Party Assembly member reportedly said, ‘If it was supposedly wrong for you to remain following the bosom of the people debate, then resign from the Party Assembly, as well. In talking to critics of enmity and assassination are you engaging in politics? You are ignoring that these people are expending their labour and money and are campaigning to the detriment of their families. Know your place.’ Also, Böke’s resignation coming one day before the convening of the Party Assembly over Sağlar lead to Böke fielding comments that she had shown herself to have a project.
Button pressed from the Palace
From what has been learnt, Kılıçdaroğlu, addressing the opening of the meeting, said, ‘We know everything. The button has been pressed and the instruction given from the Palace to cause turmoil in this party.’ Kılıçdaroğlu saying that in response to this, some colleagues have aided this project wittingly, and some unwittingly, commented, ‘I am the one who brought party internal democracy to this party, sorry to everyone for that. It is also my duty to protect this party. If anybody wishes to be general chair, let them step forward and I will actually assist them in meeting the delegates. I will pay out of my own pocket and hire meeting rooms. But I will not let anybody tear the party apart.’
I do not expect other resignations
CHP people spoke to journalists before the Party Assembly meeting about Sağlar and Böke’s resignation. CHP Group Deputy Chair Engin Altay commented on Böke’s resignation by saying, ‘Nothing at all we are experiencing comes as a surprise.’ As to whether there would be other resignations, he said, ‘Everything is possible in politics and nothing is impossible, but this is not what I expect.’ His comment on discussion over an extraordinary congress was, ‘No such discussion has started so enough of it. Such things cannot happen just because one or two people demand it. The way in which a congress convenes is known. There are three ways: the general chair convenes it or the Party Assembly does so and, if requested by vote, it can be convened with 650 signatures.’
The expectation is very different
Bursa MP Erkan Aydın, on the other hand, stated that an extraordinary course of events had been embarked on as far as the party was concerned and noted that this was not a road they should be going down. Aydın said, ‘The expectation of the 49% for whom we are the vehicle is very different. We have encountered these events which we all follow with amazement. The ordinary congress schedule has been announced. With this schedule in place, I do not think that holding yet another congress, holding a congress within six months, would be a correct decision.’
The Party Assembly will act with common sense
Balıkesir MP Mehmet Tüm, on the other hand, stated that the Party Assembly would act with ‘common sense’ over Sağlar, and said, ‘There are serious issues in the country and this must be our principal agenda. This in-family problem will be solved in the optimum manner.’ Tüm described Böke’s resignation as a ‘surprise’.
The delegates will be from the CHP
Istanbul MP Eren Erdem, stressing that the party’s ordinary congress had been set in motion, said, ‘The incoming delegation will not be from Mars. It will be from the CHP. So, I think it would be more sensible to await the ordinary congress process rather than hold a congress with the existing delegates.’
Days we would not have wished for
Ankara MP Necati Yılmaz said the decision to be taken will be a decision that puts internal party debate to an end and steers clear of creating fresh debate, and will enhance the party’s strength. Yılmaz said, ‘We are discussing agendas that we do not wish for and do not deserve. Neither Turkey, nor the party, needs this.’ As to Böke’s resignation, Yılmaz commented, ‘She is a Party Assembly member, but was made Central Executive Committee member and party spokesperson at our general chair’s discretion. So, she is obliged among other things to enlighten the general chair rather than enlighten the general public. Turkey does not need a saviour, it needs strong parties. There is only one saviour and that is Atatürk. I believe in the strength of the organisation. I do not at all consider constant debate over a congress and constant debate over the general chair to be correct and well-intentioned.’
Instruction for chaos originated from Palace