Following the meeting awaited for days between CHP General Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and presidential candidate Muharrem İnce, İnce has thrown down the gauntlet. The “leadership debate” that has continued for days since the elections has leapt into the open with İnce’s pronouncements. Stating that he had proposed to Kılıçdaroğlu that an extraordinary congress be convened, İnce indicated that he himself would not collect signatures but said, “The organisation itself will solve this business” if Kılıçdaroğlu rejected the proposal. With these comments by İnce being read as a call to the organisation to be ready if necessary to swing into action and collect signatures, Kılıçdaroğlu has for his part commented that İnce’s statements were “far from political politeness.”
With headquarters’ sources stressing in no uncertain terms that Kılıçdaroğlu will not call an extraordinary congress, the İnce team expects Kılıçdaroğlu to convene the congress without waiting for the organisation to move into action. Kılıçdaroğlu and İnce spoke face-to-face for the first time at a hotel the evening before last eight days after the election. With no official announcement as to the place and time of the meeting made by either party prior to the meeting that had been awaited for days, the parties to the meeting which the wives also attended and lasted three hours entered and left the hotel by the back door to slip past members of the press. Following the meeting that ended without a statement being made, İnce came to parliament yesterday morning and pinned his badge on Yalova MP Özcan Özel. At this point, İnce, responding to journalists’ questions about the meeting, replied as follows to the question of whether there had been a proposal:
“A proposal did not come to me from Mr Kılıçdaroğlu. But a proposal came from me to Mr Kılıçdaroğlu. I said – I have nothing concealed or hidden and I can say these things before the people – I told his excellency the General Chair he had made a great statesmanly act and had carved out a magnificent place for himself in the people’s hearts starting from sending fifteen MPs to the Good Party and with him making somebody who competed against him at congress into a presidential candidate, and his statesmanship needed to continue, and I did not want to be in competition against him, but there is a hope among the people that they felt, saw and experienced during the presidential election and we must not lose this. I explained that I could, if he wanted, be General Chair with him convening an extraordinary congress and he would be Honorary General Chair, and he would as group chair conduct business in parliament and would manage these affairs as honorary general chair within a big brother – little brother relationship, and I as general chair would work from Edirne to Ardahan and prepare the party for the elections. I made a proposal of this nature.”
The organisation will deal with a negative response
Saying that Kılıçdaroğlu did not say “yes” or “no” to the proposal, İnce said on being asked if he would collect signatures if the former replied in the negative, “If he says ‘no’ I will not collect signatures. But, if he says ‘no,’ the organisation itself will solve this business.” These comments by İnce have been assessed as a call to the organisation to swing into action and collect signatures if Kılıçdaroğlu does not convene a congress.
“Political politeness” reaction
After İnce disclosed the contents of the meeting to the press, a reaction was also forthcoming from Kılıçdaroğlu. From what has been learnt, Kılıçdaroğlu’s response to İnce’s comments was, “It was a private dinner along with both people’s wives and was not a dinner before the press. Wrenching this meeting out of its main context is far from political politeness.” With it gleaned that Kılıçdaroğlu will reject proposals for a congress, headquarters does not have a congress on its agenda, either. There have also been staff members who have had pretty short shrift for İnce, saying with reference to İnce’s congress proposal, “Why is the congress to convene? Because they didn’t like the presidential candidate?” With İnce stating in no uncertain terms that he himself would not collect signatures, it is said to be likely somebody from his team apart from İnce who will call for a congress. With the simple majority of delegates required for an extraordinary congress convened by vote, the congress can also be convened with signatures amounting to ten per cent. However, elections cannot be conducted at a congress convened with ten per cent of the signatures. Therefore, there must be 627 signatures for an extraordinary congress convened by vote. According to the CHP rulebook, the general chair can convene the congress or a congress decision can be taken by the simple majority of the Party Assembly. With the door closed on an extraordinary congress at headquarters since the conclusion of the election, extremely reserved comments were in fact coming from İnce. With the statement he made yesterday, İnce has for the first time given a serious message about a congress. Following İnce’s message, the CHP lobbies have once more moved into action at the prospect of a congress. With clear calls for resignation and a congress once more being made from both the Party Assembly and certain delegates, there is another opinion that does not favour a congress.
They have competed twice at congresses
İnce has competed twice against CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu. On the first occasion, Kılıçdaroğlu gained 740 votes and İnce 415 at the 18th Extraordinary Congress held when Kılıçdaroğlu convened the congress in 2014. At the 36th Ordinary Congress held in February this year, conversely, Kılıçdaroğlu got 790 votes and Muharrem İnce 447.
Critical Central Executive Committee tomorrow
The CHP’s Central Executive Committee, on the other hand, is convening tomorrow chaired by General Chair Kılıçdaroğlu. Despite headquarters rejecting a congress in no uncertain terms, the opposition wing says that Kılıçdaroğlu may pass a congress resolution and this may be announced after the Central Executive Committee.