The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has recently been actively constructing its political strategy on various topics, from appealing to Kurdish voters to bureaucracy. But the most recent developments necessitated us to add new propaganda and counter-propaganda tactics to the titles of CHP’s political strategy activities.
The latest example was Kılıçdaroğlu’s Twitter broadcast on the evening of January 30. It was scheduled to be on the night of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s public speech at a Black Sea province Trabzon opening ceremony. In the speech, the president gave the microphone to a 10-year-old and allowed him to shout CHP leader, “traitor”, asking for votes for the president. Kılıçdaroğlu afterwards introduced their latest report on social media trolls, who constantly post insults about him. The opposition leader gave one of the aggressors’ name on his Twitter broadcast. If he initiates a legal procedure against these social media trolls, the newly appointed Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdağ will have to work overtime.
Previously, Kılıçdaroğlu also scheduled his social media broadcast to be precisely at the same time when Erdoğan was on a live interview on Television. The ruling party’s one-sided psychological propaganda war has started to become reciprocal. The AKP side is angry; they seem to be baffled. CHP’s videos also appear to be produced professionally, taking the screening time into account. His speeches usually are 5 to 6 minutes. Obviously, there is a new team in the background, or a new outlook was adopted.
Bureaucracy: a strategy of destabilization and insecurity
Kılıçdaroğlu, in one of these counter-propaganda videos, called the members of the bureaucracy to disobey Erdoğan’s and his close circle’s orders on issues unrelated to the functioning of the state. That call was a part of the psychological propaganda strategy that we mentioned. It also aimed to create a kind of destabilization and a climate of insecurity.
The pro-government media outlets published CCTV footage of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu’s widely discussed dinner appointment while Istanbul was under a snowstorm. Isn’t it a sign of a leak that the cameras and the time codes of the published footage was determined in a short time?
The opposition leader told experienced journalist Ruşen Çakır on MedyaScope, “CHP is bombarded with documents.” One of the rumours in Ankara was that some decisions were given to the main opposition party via courts, especially on financial matters.
How reliable are the leaked documents? Are there any decoy documents fake documents in it? To sort them out is the problem of the CHP. In the end, there is always a danger of wasting time.
What is important here is that some members of the middle-level bureaucracy who hadn’t been paying attention to what Kılıçdaroğlu was saying before, started to listen to him curiously, wondering if there is something that concerns them, under the influence of a wish to protect their position in case of a change of power.
Let’s talk about making peace with the Kurdish voters
Kılıçdaroğlu’s statement in January, “The way of democracy passes through Diyarbakır” before the Diyarbakır program, which was postponed due to snowfall last week, caused controversy. Yavuz Ağıralioğlu, Deputy Chairman of the İYİ Party, the Nation Alliance partner of the CHP, warned that “it goes through Ankara, the Parliament”. Moreover, it was Kılıçdaroğlu who previously pointed to the Turkish Grand National Assembly as the place for the solution of the Kurdish issue.
But the CHP has a claim to elect deputies in the upcoming elections from the East and Southeast regions, where it has not been present for decades. In order to achieve this, there is a need to make peace with the Kurdish voters.
According to Oğuz Kaan Salıcı, Deputy Chairman of the CHP in charge of the organization, the CHP showed in the 2019 local elections that it could get votes from the Kurdish voters in the country’s west. It is not realistic for the CHP to attract votes from the HDP, which seems to be entrenched in the East and Southeast. However, Salıcı says that there are requests for participation from traditional, conservative, centre-right Kurdish opinion leaders, families and civil society who stand by the AKP rather than HDP when the AKP became the first party in Turkey.
Black Sea Desk established, Central Anatolia is the next
This desk is in line with the Rawest poll, which we published on YetkinReport a while ago, which showed a centre-right increase in CHP votes.
The CHP had established an East Desk in 2021 within the framework of its election work. Many CHP members are working for this organization, from the left-wing politicians like former Diyarbakır Bar Association President Sezgin Tanrıkulu, to conservative politicians like Abdüllatif Şener and Cihangir İslamoğlu.
Salıcı explained to YetkinReport that the CHP is also establishing a Black Sea Desk, which will work at “the coastline from Düzce to Artvin” as the CHP’s strategy to reconcile with the Black Sea electorate. It is not a coincidence that Kılıçdaroğlu gave the example of Rize.
“The CHP has 19% of the votes on the Black Sea coastline,” explains Salıcı.
“The AKP’s vote is 51 %. When we include the MHP, it exceeds 70 %. We have to face this picture and try to change it,” he adds.
The Balkan and Rumelian immigrants desk has already started; the Central Anatolia desk is the next.
Will CHP get rid of being stuck on the Aegean-Mediterranean coast?
In other words, the organization strategy of the main opposition is not limited to the aim of making peace with the Kurdish voters.
According to Salıcı, CHP aims to make peace with all the electorate groups that the CHP has kept cold with for years and save the CHP from the appearance of a party stuck in big cities Aegean-Mediterranean coastline.
Of course, there is also the metropolitan dimension of this business. Eastern and South-Eastern voters and Black Sea voters interact with Istanbul; central Anatolian and Eastern voters have serious voting potential in Ankara because of domestic immigration.
Here, the Black Sea coast is of particular importance. In addition to big cities such as Samsun and Trabzon, there are cities such as Rize that Erdoğan sees as a vote depot. Last year, we saw the AKP’s efforts to prevent IYI Party leader Meral Akşener in Rize. President Erdoğan is from Rize, and Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu is from Trabzon. They are responsible for ensuring the safety of the opposition leaders and the rights and freedoms of political activity.
Therefore, while the CHP tries to re-establish its presence in the East and Southeast, the Eastern Black Sea Region and Central Anatolia’s Konya-Kayseri-Sivas line, it will have to overcome some internal and non-party obstacles.