Academic journal article Insight Turkey

The CHP in the June and November 2015 Elections: An Evaluation on Political Impasse

Academic journal article Insight Turkey

The CHP in the June and November 2015 Elections: An Evaluation on Political Impasse

Article excerpt

The CHP from the June 7 to November 1 Elections

Having considerably resolved its internal problems following the 18th Party Convention, the CHP had two remaining tasks to complete for the June 7 elections. The first was to designate the parliamentary candidates and the second was to appear before the electorate with an electoral declaration comprising of assertive pledges to attract more voters. (1) The CHP accomplished more than what was expected. By carrying out an internal election prior to the national elections, the CHP took an important step towards becoming a modern social-democratic party and adopting the principle of institutionalizing intra-party democracy. Abiding by the preferences of party members in these internal elections, the party administration placed the candidates who obtained the most votes at the top positions of the parliamentary candidate lists. Overall, the CHP may have achieved the highest degree of transparency in relation to the other parties' internal processes for the June 7 elections. This was because Kilicdaroglu paved the way for designating almost two thirds of parliamentary candidates, including himself, through the internal elections. This process revived the party's grassroots; further, it laid the grounds so that the base of other parties would place pressure on their party leadership. This could have a positive outcome and become more prevalent for future elections. Another tactic was to designate former DYP (Dogru Yol Partisi/True Path Party) members as candidates, especially in the east and southeast, in order to draw votes away from the AK Party in those regions. (2) The internal elections along with the effort to increase the number of women candidates in major cities created the potential for a new atmosphere in the party. Moreover, the CHP rejected to extend candidatures to the right wing of the party, as "right wing" candidates were often supported in the previous elections. This time around, they were either excluded from the lists or were placed in less important positions. The CHP list aimed to prevent the loss of social-democrat and youth votes to the HDP in key areas. In this sense, one of the features of the list was that it was based on not embarking on an adventure but "preserving its votes," according to those who consider that the CHP was not focused on making a major leap but on "preserving its votes." (3) The critics of the CHP's new internal elections claimed that the representative mechanisms were reduced to "representation of elites." We have to draw attention to the fact that certain professional groups failed to find a place or managed to find a very small place in the candidate list of the CHP: workers (trade unionists were excluded from the list or were placed in positions without any possibility for election), farmers and villagers, craftsmen, etc. These constituencies all failed to find any place in this system. (4)

However, although certain socio-economic groups were excluded, the CHP ran on a platform of "CHP for Everyone," a message given by Kilicdaroglu to mean that the institutional identity of the party has not been hijacked by any ideological identity. And the CHP should be a "catch-all party" The CHP intended to reposition itself with an image of a "mosaic party" that had projects for the post-modern times by including candidates from an array of political and ethnic standpoints, such as candidates of center-right wing origin, certain nationalist figures, representatives of the Roman and Armenian community, especially in major cities. This is what the CHP meant by "CHP for Everyone" and a "catch-all party" (5) During the process of designating candidates, CHP leaders wanted the party to have an image of "beyond right and left, but right in the center," based on its political actors. This was focused on winning in politics and would comply with the spirit of the time. The most modest reading of this slogan indicates that the CHP planned to extend its influence beyond the traditional right or left divide, and to pursue the centrist voters supporting the AK Party. …

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