CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, indicating that the debate sparked off by criticism over an extraordinary congress, the presidential candidacy and a single-man style that arose in the party following the referendum is now ‘over and done with,’ commented, ‘We must continue on our way, without creating disappointment, strengthening this unity and expanding the common denominator. You will establish principles and select candidates in line with them. We cannot know as of today if that person will be A, B or C. That would be jumping the gun.’ As to Deniz Baykal’s comments, Kılıçdaroğlu commented, ‘He shared his acquired wisdom in politics with the public.’
I interviewed Kılıçdaroğlu at parliament following yesterday’s CHP group meeting and he made do with the reply, ‘I do not deem it correct’ in connection with discussion over the death penalty that MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli brought once more onto the agenda at yesterday’s group meeting. Kılıçdaroğlu replied as follows to my questions:
- What in your view is the intention and purpose behind the launching out of the blue of debate over the general chair within the party?
Quite frankly, I think this debate is over and done with. This is undoubtedly the most natural right of colleagues who so wish and they can be general chair. I will also hire meeting rooms for them and, if they want, I will invite delegates and they can come and make speeches. There is room for this in my democratic standard. I mean, there is no need for a quarrel of this kind. People come and stand for the general chairship, I respect this, and if they win they become general chair, this has my respect.
- So, the debate over an extraordinary congress has ended then.
There is a gap of five to six months between the extraordinary and ordinary ones, anyhow. They used to speak of the congress party CHP but now the AKP has become the congress party. How many congresses have they held in recent times? There has only been one extraordinary congress in my time as general chair.
- You said the Palace had a hand in the disputes within the party.
I conveyed insights that had come my way at a closed meeting to my MP colleagues. To do with the 49% - officially 49%, in my view it was more than 50%. There can be nothing more natural than for the ruling party wing to feel uncomfortable. So, it will wish to split up this 49% mass that aspires to democracy and a democratic parliamentary system, with 2019 in mind. This 49%, not just us, but the other parties and civil society organisations must be attentive to this matter. We must increase the size of this pro-democracy cake. Everyone must make an effort to this end. We, too, must make an effort.
- Is it your goal to wage a campaign that focuses on the parliamentary election and to carry this into the presidency, or to defend the parliamentary system in a manner that focuses on the presidential election?
It would be neither correct nor fitting for me on my own to say that we will do such and such or to state my view without obtaining their views. For example, I will speak to Temel Karamollaoğlu on Friday. We will sit and talk. Then we will sit and talk with the other political parties’ general chairs. I mean, I think it is very valuable to exchange views on the democracy common denominator, the democratic parliamentary system common denominator. This will both strengthen ties and also contribute towards the development of a joint discourse over raising democratic standards in Turkey. That is why I deem it valuable.
- There is a body of people who believe in you and you have actually consolidated that body. Is there no other candidate in the group you represent apart from you?
This is the group we represent as the CHP, but there are also other groups. They will also think and sit and talk during this process. How did we come together on the ‘no’ common denominator? There is a shared consensus over the parliamentary system. Now, we must set out on the road based on this consensus and rescue Turkey from the single-man regime. I would say that the basic referendum campaigning started after 16 April because whatever we said was conveyed to the public as Kılıçdaroğlu not telling the truth. Now it is becoming apparent stage by stage that I was telling the truth. The president approaching the party, becoming a member and tomorrow becoming general chair. There is an ethical problem involved. There is an ethical problem involved. When the president was elected, he was elected saying he would be impartial and he is no longer impartial. So, the promise made to the people has not been kept and the people have been deceived
- Will a process of alliances start before the presidential and parliamentary election?
There is no way I can know or answer that question, not today. I have no way of knowing what the conditions will be at the time. The late Süleyman Demirel used to say that 24 hours is a very long time in politics. There was an alliance over ‘no’. Mrs Akşener has described this as being the party of ‘no’. This is a natural alliance, I mean. In the end, the emerging landscape and the party’s election manifestos will all be inspected and seen in good time.
- The CHP in the past remained closed to strategies dubbed the ‘holy alliance.’
I do not find alliances that break up and polarise society to be correct. This may be in an ideological context, or may be in an ethnic context, but I do not find it to be correct. On the democracy common denominator this is an event that goes beyond an alliance, and it is a means for integrating into the civilised world. So, the unity that will be forged here is very valuable for us. It is not correct to take this and compare it to previous alliances. The approach and conditions were different there and are different here.
- Deniz Baykal visited the President after 7 June and also provoked debate in the party after the referendum. Does Baykal’s timing not strike you as curious?
Mr Baykal shared his acquired wisdom in politics with the public
It was not an opinion. It was a study that we used as an attachment.
Kılıçdaroğlu rebuked the press for reports that they had obtained an opinion about the referendum results from President Erdoğan’s former chief advisor and Ombudsman Institution Chair Şeref Malkoç. Kılıçdaroğlu said, ‘The Ombudsman Institution had a very neat study it did and we took that study and attached it to the petition. It was not an opinion given to us. In fact, we can apply to the Ombudsman Institution. Is this wrong? We previously made an application with reference to the president’s impartiality and they did not reply for a long time and then gave the reply, “This does not fall under our jurisdiction and we cannot broach this matter”.’
Too early for candidacy
- You have reserved your position as to standing for the general chairship and presidency. Let’s ask straight out – will you or won’t you stand for the presidency?
There would be nothing more wrong than for me to answer this question on my own. There is a mass body that voted ‘no’ and defends the democratic parliamentary system. They make up half of society. It would be wrong if you pushed this mass body to one side and came out as the CHP general chair and created the impression the 49% belonged to you alone and set about picking a candidate. We must continue on our way, without creating disappointment, strengthening this unity and expanding the common denominator. Rather, we must make an effort having set out informed by principles. There could be nothing as wrong as mentioning people’s names today. We must set out informed by principles. We will select candidates in line with these principles. We cannot know as of today if that person will be A, B or C. That would be jumping the gun, as they say. There is no such clear picture today.
The result in France is interesting
- How do you assess the French election?
An independent candidate came out and managed to get elected on an above-party identity. Could this also happen in Turkey? I am of the opinion that the far right has lost ground. You have to follow every election and its result carefully. France is in a class by itself as a country and is a country whose democratic standards are highly developed. So, it is really interesting for a person to emerge who is independent of all parties and take his seat as president. This means that he is able to garner votes from many political parties with the messages he gives. As events unfold before us, the presidential candidates will most probably take account of practices in France. It is an important experience.
There are nearly seven million unemployed
CHP General Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu addressed the CHP group meeting and said that the economy had collapsed in Turkey. Kılıçdaroğlu, saying, ‘They will make people affiliated to the AKP into judges under a new arrangement,’ repeated his warnings about a party state.
The messages given by Kılıçdaroğlu to the group meeting are summarised below:
Let everyone know that the economy has collapsed: We have been through a referendum process. They were going to make Turkey fly. They have made prices fly. Inflation has flown. Unemployment has approached seven million. The kids of the gentlemen in Ankara have got it made and they are not looking for work. They think things are this way for all young people. Let everyone know that the economy has collapsed. We are undergoing a huge collapse in all of the state’s institutions. Meritocracy has ended. You have got to be a member either of a party or a brotherhood. There is no information, acquired knowledge, experience.
We will support the wronged: Now they have sacked a whole host of people under decrees with the force of law. There are judges and prosecutors on the inside and there are university teachers. Two of our young friends are on hunger strike and we call out to them from here with respect and love. If you dismiss a faculty member because they signed the peace declaration or do not stand by them as the state, we are against this state of affairs. We will not support this state of affairs. We will lend all manner of support to their struggles of all kinds until their rights are reinstated.
They will make people affiliated to the AKP into judges: There is a special arrangement. Judges may also be inducted from among practising lawyers. The examinations and appointments that are made are now assuming a different form. Members of the ruling party are being appointed as judges and prosecutors. AKP parliamentary candidates in the 7 June elections for Adana, İstanbul, Adıyaman and Nevşehir, the Taşköprü sub-provincial char ... it is a long list. They will bring them and make them into judges. Think, if they resign to stand for election and do not win, they cannot revert back, but they are making judges out of people who carry a party’s identification card. I wish to call out to the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors from here. If you wish to preserve the esteem of the judiciary and if each of you performs an honourable task, you must not permit this state of affairs.