This Claw Mark is being penned before the end of the first day of the CHP’s 36th congress. While penning this Claw Mark, the election for general chair had yet to start. So, you will have learnt the result this morning but I have to write without knowing.
Were you to inquire, “Hey, newspaper man, does all you have to say about a giant congress boil down to just finding an answer to the question of who will become general chair?” ...
Yes, that’s what it boils down to.
Today will also reveal who is to be elected to the Party Assembly (PA). If the talk of open lists being used and two-thirds of the 1274 delegates being candidates is true, it will be a most entertaining election. Terms such as open list, key list, Kılıçdaroğlu’s key list, provincial chairs’ key list, genuine key list and fake key list will fly around. Rumours and claims of dubious veracity will be breathed into journalists’ and the people’s ears. The excruciating task of counting the votes will then follow, and some people will be overjoyed, while others will foam at the mouth, saying, “I was promised. I was double crossed.”
Well, can the giant CHP congress – in these truly critical days for Turkey - simply boil down to who is going to be general chair and who are going to be PA members?
Yes, that’s what it boils down to.
Perhaps our Ankara team will assess things differently and set out very different analyses, based on distinctions that are beyond my grasp.
But my eyes, unschooled in Ankara journalism, tell me that this is what it boils down to.
Following the by-now customary first-day congress ceremonies, we listened to the long, indeed overlong, speeches of the two general chair candidates, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Muharrem İnce. Then voting for general chair started.
At rallies and congresses, candidates’ impressive speeches and the applause they garner from the galleries is always misleading.
Had the impact on the auditorium of the two general chair candidates’ speeches at yesterday’s CHP congress been decisive (which it shouldn’t be) and were all those in the gallery to have a vote (which they didn’t) Muharrem İnce would have crossed the finishing line with a clear lead.
But, a glance at the rows of delegates in the auditorium and not the gallery made it appear certain who would cross the finishing line with a clear lead: Kılıçdaroğlu.
Let’s see what result emerges when the count is over.
There is little and little else I can say about the first day of the CHP’s congress.
Both general chair candidates made an unadulterated rally speech. Their speeches concentrated on harsh criticism of the AKP government. In other words, we experienced and witnessed a variation of the adage, “Propaganda by Turks for Turks” in the form of “Propaganda by the CHP for the CHP.” With nobody in the auditorium thinking any differently, I leave the decision to you as to how meaningful and significant this inclination could be.
On the eve of the congress, i.e. Friday evening, I conducted a fairly long interview that I will impart to you next week with two spokespersons - two MPs whose names have acquired fame: Selin Sayek Böke and İlhan Cihaner - of a movement that is readying itself to mount an unprecedented sortie within the CHP. The – in my view – important call they have voiced and articulated in detail did not strike a convincing chord at this congress. In fact, Selin Sayek Böke describes the “calls” in which they announce the movement they have started and have the nature of a “manifesto” as a first step and an initial step. Let us hope that the points for debate set out in that call will strike a chord in the upper echelons of the CHP in the days to come. The base in any case has serious objections to inclinations that appear to restrict themselves to “opposition through oration” and fulminating against the AKP Chief and that fall foul of the social democratic line on many quite fundamental points.
Let’s wait and see.
Let’s get this congress over with and find out who the general chair, PA members and then Central Executive Committee members are to be. That is, let it become clear who is to govern the CHP until the next congress.