Sarıgül's possible return causes tension in CHP

Sarıgül was expelled from the party for challenging a previous leader. Whether or not he will return to the CHP has been a source of controversy.

Sarıgül's possible return causes tension in CHP

The potential return to the party and possible nomination of former Republican People's Party (CHP) politician Mustafa Sarıgül as the party's mayoral candidate in İstanbul has certainly strained some nerves inside the CHP.

Sarıgül was expelled from the party for challenging a previous leader. Whether or not he will return to the CHP has been a source of controversy. Some have vocally expressed their opposition to such a possibility, but CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu recently said he would be honored to have Sarıgül back. He also said Sarıgül could bring as many people as he wants. However, Sarıgül, currently the mayor of İstanbul's Şişli district, has been evasive in comments about whether or not he will be rejoining the CHP. On Monday, he told a journalist who raised a related question: “We will hopefully ensure that all social democrats and people who believe in democracy will get together and we will bring social democratic national unity to power first in the local elections and then in the general elections.”

Although a few years ago he started a political movement of his own, the Turkey Change Movement (TDH), it hasn't become a political party yet and Sarıgül could be a valuable candidate for the CHP. He is a popular politician and polls show that many would be willing to vote for him if he ran against İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Kadir Topbaş in next year's municipal elections.

There are two aspects to the story of Sarıgül's possible comeback: First, there is currently a decision still in place for his expulsion from the party. To remove the expulsion, Sarıgül has to appeal. However, he maintains that the expulsion decision is unjust and should be treated as null and void. The CHP administration however, insists that Sarıgül apply to repeal the decision. If he does appeal, the issue will be taken up at the next scheduled Party Council meeting. Sarıgül wants the expulsion repealed and then to be invited by the CHP.

In 2005, Sarıgül successfully challenged former CHP leader Deniz Baykal at a leadership congress. He was expelled from the party for “creating unrest and causing scuffles” in the same year.

Another problem is that Kılıçdaroğlu cannot guarantee that Sarıgül will be allowed to return after an expulsion without the support of the Party Council. And if he does return, it is also not a certainty that he will be the CHP's candidate for mayor in İstanbul.

There is also the possibility that Sarıgül, if he gets more votes in the 2014 municipal elections than Kılıçdaroğlu, who garnered 36.80 percent in the local elections of 2009 as the CHP's candidate for mayor, will run for the CHP leadership. This is also increasing uneasiness among party members about his possible return.

A senior CHP member who asked to remain unnamed in print told Today's Zaman that he believes that Sarıgül's return would inevitably divide the CHP. “If he comes back, Deniz Baykal and about 40 of his supporters might leave the party. The party might be divided,” he said.

CHP Deputy Chairman Gürsel Tekin, who is known to be not too fond of the idea, told Today's Zaman: “Stories regarding Mr. Sarıgül's return are trying to create the air that there is a problem inside the CHP. We have made our stance clear on this. Our chairman clearly said our doors are open. We are tired of all these commentaries, evaluations and reports in the press. Mr. Sarıgül, if he is going to join the CHP, should make a final statement about his decision.”

Another deputy chairman, Haluk Koç, recently said: “The CHP tries to put democratic processes to work. Sarıgül has to decide for himself first. If he continues acting like a confused traffic light, one won't know which way to look.”


Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Eylül 2013, 22:56

Muhammed Öylek