Turkey: a new leader for the main opposition party
After 13 years at the helm, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is no longer leader of the Kemalist CHP. The 74-year-old lost the run-off election for the Turkish presidency against Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in May and has now been defeated by 49-year-old parliamentary group leader Özgür Özel, who was mainly supported by younger delegates, in the vote for party leader at the CHP party conference. Commentators are glad to see a young leader take over but warn that this is not enough.
Time for an era of winners
For Kılıçdaroğlu, the defeat in the presidential race was just one defeat too many, T24 comments:
“Kılıçdaroğlu, who always remained in office despite his electoral defeats, who ran for president for the first time in the historically significant elections on 14 May, and lost, and who was accused of pursuing right-wing policies, also lost the party presidency in the second round of voting in a strange twist of fate. 2023 was a year of run-off defeats for him. ... For the first time since 1972, an incumbent CHP leader has lost the election at the party congress. This marks the beginning of a new era for the largest opposition party.”
Knowing what the people want is crucial
If the new party leader wants to ensure real change he must be more attentive to voters than previous CHP leaders, comments Karar:
“CHP is the name of the party that ever since it was founded has answered the question ‘Should I be like the people or should the people be like me’ with ‘The people should be like me’. The real change will come the day this answer changes, and not before then. Yes, perhaps 100 years ago the CHP was the ‘pioneering revolutionary party of the people’, but today that is no longer the case. We live in a country where it is not possible to make policies without knowing what the people want. Perhaps the CHP will decide to listen to the people for once.”