Main oppositon CHP’s congress not likely to end the bitter war

by editor | 6th December 2010 9:07 am

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[NEWS ANALYSIS] – The main Opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which has been experiencing turbulence since a change in leadership and a warning from the Supreme Court of Appeals for failure to implement new party bylaws which were adopted in 2008, is going to hold a congress on Dec. 18 that is unlikely to end the ongoing battle between the party’s competing factions.

The CHP’s new chairman, Kemal K?l?çdaro?lu, came to power with the help the party’s former secretary-general and kingmaker Önder Sav, who also played a crucial role in preventing the comeback of former leader Deniz Baykal, who had to step down from his post after a sex-video showing him with one of his deputies in a compromising position was made public. Sav and K?l?çdaro?lu do not see eye-to-eye on many issues, which quickly proved to be a problem. K?l?çdaro?lu changed the party’s secretary-general, but still Sav’s grip on the party delegates remains strong. Baykal and K?l?çdaro?lu might even work together to eliminate Sav’s last remaining bits of influence.
In order to successfully conclude the bid to oust Sav completely, the CHP administration will not allow the delegates to nominate their own candidates but rather have the delegates for unchangeable lists, called “bloc lists,” on which the names of the candidates are determined by the party administration. This runs contrary to an earlier promise from CHP leader K?l?çdaro?lu, who said under his leadership the party would always allow the changeable list method in congresses. If the congress opts for this method of voting, it might be possible for Sav and Baykal supporters to get elected to at least half of the seats on the 80-member Party Council. If Baykal agrees to support K?l?çdaro?lu in his endeavor to oust Sav, the pair is more than likely to achieve this end.
Baykal believes that Sav is most responsible his elimination from the party ahead of the May 22 congress – at which K?l?çdaro?lu was elected the new leader – and might be harboring feelings of revenge. Indeed, Baykal sources say he is very positive about supporting K?l?çdaro?lu in his effort to eliminate Sav. However, K?l?çdaro?lu always runs the risk of competing against a Sav-Baykal partnership in the congress, if he can’t manage to convince Baykal to support him.
Intricate balances
Currently, the intraparty opposition against K?l?çdaro?lu has its own bloc list ready to be submitted to the congress. This inside opposition is likely to cause great tension during the Dec. 18 congress. If the congress sees a duel of two lists, the backer of the losing list will have no chance of continuing their political career in the CHP. In the case of cooperation between Baykal and Sav, K?l?çdaro?lu might even lose his party chairmanship.
At the same time, any cooperation with K?l?çdaro?lu and Baykal supporters will work to keep the latter group active in politics. In such a case, Baykal will find the opportunity to influence some of the party’s choices for Party Council, which will in turn nominate the candidates for parliament.
If this indeed happens, a minority of those on the Party Council will comprise K?l?çdaro?lu supporters. If this doesn’t work out, Baykal is likely to seek out an alliance with Sav and prevent K?l?çdaro?lu from freely compiling candidacy lists. This might even, over the long term, give the opportunity to Baykal to return to power.
Fourth-way supporters
There is also a group inside the CHP that is calling for a fourth way. This group wants changeable non-bloc lists to be voted in the congress and that the candidates on this list be nominated through consensus between K?l?çdaro?lu, Baykal and Sav. This group includes members of the CHP that have held higher positions in various bodies of the party administration in the past.
The fourth-way bloc feels that infighting should stop before the party sustains more damage, saying this is particularly important ahead of the 2011 elections. This group wants to see five or 10 people from the supporters of Baykal and Sav on K?l?çdaro?lu’s Party Council list. However, most observers say such reconciliation in the party is unlikely.
Another twist that might emerge during the congress is for Sav and his supporters to collect enough delegate signatures to force the administration to use changeable lists during the votes for party council seats. One-tenth of the total delegate number is necessary for this to be proposed, which is not at all difficult for Sav. This means that 124 signatures out of the 1,242 who will vote in the Dec. 18 congress would be enough to propose voting based on changeable lists. If 621 of the delegates approve, then the proposal will pass. However, K?l?çdaro?lu might garner the support of 621 delegates, party sources say.

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