No longer slam dunk voters for Turkish opposition

Following the election defeat of the opposition, and a series of  disputed moves, CHP chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu can no longer assume slam dunk voters in the local elections. The photo shows a recent visit of the party executives to the moseleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic and also the CHP.

Before the May 2023 elections, the opposition voters in Turkey focused on changing the current government, which has been trying to rule the country for more than 20 years and whose mistakes have created serious concerns about our future. In fact, a wide political spectrum ranging from right to left, ethnic nationalist to religious, which seemed very difficult to come together, sat around the same table for this purpose.

The result was a huge disappointment, and both the presidency and the parliament remained in the hands of the ruling party. Although accusations that the elections were unfair were partially justified, the legitimacy of the results was not fundamentally questioned.

While we were thinking “There is a government problem”, we now see that we have an even more serious opposition problem. The Table of Six lost its integrity and started blaming each other. Inside the party is seething in almost all of them, demands for change echo strongly in the sky. The opposition forgot about the government and focused on its own problems.

The opposition problem and CHP

The power problem within the opposition is most vividly experienced in the main opposition party, CHP. However, on the night he lost the election, the CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu should have said goodbye to politics and paved the way for opening a new page in the founding party of this republic, which has staged chronic opposition for 44 years. It was not the right decision to set himself the mission of taking the party to a haven. A brand-new leadership, mission, and staffing were required to prepare the party for the next elections and give hope to the masses.

If the CHP headquarters does not want to be defeated in the local elections a few months away and lose what it already has, it should not in my opinion underestimate the angry reaction that is gradually taking root in the society and the following points below.

The static old guard

  • Ruled by “old guard” cadres who lost the presidential and parliamentary elections despite extremely favorable conditions for winning, who have not been in power since 1979, who are stuck with the 25 percent ceiling in the national votes, and who are mostly unaware of the world and the dynamics of Turkey (they have been elected for six or seven terms despite their lack of success). Trust in the Republican People’s Party and its current leadership, which has been unable to put forward a convincing vision and executive team for the country, has been seriously eroded. It has eroded and created a flood of anger against the leadership among party cadres and loyal voters for being treated as if nothing had happened.
  • A significant portion of CHP voters will no longer go to the ballot box “in a rush” and vote; boredom and dissatisfaction are at their peak, even if the result is going to be the AKP gaining more local governments. This is clearly revealed in all conversations and opinion polls.

Uncomfortable grassroots

  • The desired change cannot be presented as “let the current leader go and replace him with another leader who is ambitious for power through delegate games.” There is a wave coming from deeper. A wave that cannot be neglected or ignored in any way. People will no longer accept the Turkish mantra of “Keep the broken arm in the sleeve”. What is expected is a radical, comprehensive program, staff, organization, and leadership change that will win power both locally and in the Presidential and parliamentary elections, attract quality people, instill hope in workers, peasants, tradesmen, intellectuals, women, and youth, and take the country and its people to the world championship league. Creating a new “patchwork” broad-based coalition will frighten people and make it difficult to govern the country. This approach backfired in the last election anyway.

Failing short of creating hopes

  • The wind and reality of power alone must be created, and the masses must be convinced of this goal. Unfortunately, neither the current leadership nor those who are candidates for change can demonstrate the vision and capacity to realize this needed fundamental transformation. A much different leadership, bold, and innovative approach is required.
  • Despite all their efforts, the local governments, unfortunately, could not give people the impression that “if they come to power, they would take the country to new heights”, with a few exceptions. Bad management, bribery, constant complaints, and squabbling did not end. More of the central government’s obstruction comes from within. The resources owned by municipalities and their affiliated businesses command billions of dollars in land rentier, and unpleasant odors spread around.

Foreign relations and business world

  • Today, CHP appears as a party that does not have strong international engagements, is not well known in the outside world, and is not taken seriously. However, the external messages and cadres of a party that is a candidate to govern a country that is fundamentally connected to the global system in economy, security, finance, trade, tourism, and energy are as critical as its domestic policy strategy. Except for the personal efforts and sound statements of Namık Tan, the new member of parliament and advisor to the chairman of the CHP, there is no voice on vital foreign policy and security issues.
  • Relations with the business world are not excellent. There is not even a regular dialogue mechanism with our companies that will develop this country, create employment, added value, technology, finance, and prosperity, and connect it to the outside world.

No slam dunk anymore

If I do not see serious and credible movement on the above issues, I will never think “What should I do, there is no other alternative, so I will go to the polls once again” in the upcoming local elections. I have my eye on not the party, but a strong and ethical candidate whom I will feel comfortable with.

Mehmet Öğütçü

The London Energy Club - Chair

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