The Turkish center-left faces the dilemma of its renewal after a new defeat against Erdogan | International

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The new defeat against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has opened the debate on the need for renewal in the Republican People's Party (CHP), the main social democratic formation in Turkey and the main opposition force. More and more voices are demanding that their leader, Kemal Kiliçdaroglu —opposition candidate against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan— give way to younger leaders.

In the early hours of Sunday to Monday, when the count had already made it clear that Erdogan would remain in power, several members of the CHP central committee offered Kiliçdaroglu his resignation en bloc. He rejected her. He also refused to present his resignation himself, arguing that this would give an image of "failure" when he considers that the 48% of the votes reached in the second round of the presidential elections this Sunday is a great success for the opposition, according to reports. this Monday various Turkish media. “Despite all the pressures, the desire to change this authoritarian regime is obvious. We will continue the fight. Our path continues. We are still here, ”Kiliçdaroglu said in his speech after the results were made public.

A woman walks past an election poster for candidate Kiliçdaroglu on a street in Istanbul on Monday. Emrah Gurel (AP)

But more and more voices are demanding that he withdraw and criticize his insistence on having imposed his name as a joint candidate of the opposition against other names that the polls gave more possibilities against Erdogan, such as the mayors of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu, or Ankara, Mansur Yavas. “Despite the much effort he has put into the presidential elections, Kemal Kiliçdaroglu has not been successful. Our party has also failed in the legislative elections," criticized former party leader Mehmet Akif Hamzaçebi on Twitter. "Stop. Leave it please. Dedicate yourself to your grandchildren. He gave us hope for 13 years, but now he must leave it with dignity, ”asked the mayor of Bolu, Tuncay Özcan.

In this new period, Kiliçdaroglu does not even have a seat in Parliament, which makes it very difficult for him to continue as a political leader. But the veteran Social Democrat (he is 74 years old) seems to want to steer the course of his formation, at least until the municipal elections in March next year. In other words, ten months that, as Erdogan hinted in his triumphant speech, will be practically a continuous electoral campaign.

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The CHP should have held its ordinary congress last year. However, it was postponed to focus on the electoral period that ended on Sunday. According to sources cited by the media medyascope and Habertürk, Kiliçdaroglu's idea is for the party to start holding local congresses at the end of the summer, then continue with the provincial congresses and elect a new national leader of the party after the municipal ones, in which the CHP must defend the City Councils achieved in the 2019 elections as Ankara and Istanbul before the attack that Erdogan is preparing.

There are many who point to the mayor Imamoglu, 51, as a possible new leader. In fact, in a video posted on social networks on Monday, the mayor of Istanbul launched a message in favor of continuing to fight for change. “We cannot expect different results if we always do the same thing,” he said in a veiled reference to his own party and in a speech in which he made numerous references to the youth of the great figures of Turkish history when they obtained their the best logres. “I know that tens of millions of people today are disappointed. Dear young people, do not give in to despair. We are a nation capable of great things […] Trust me, we have a long road ahead of us. [pero] we are young and we have faith in ourselves. Trust me. Everything will be better, ”she concluded.

Ekrem Imamoglu, during a rally in Istanbul this Saturday.
Ekrem Imamoglu, during a rally in Istanbul this Saturday. YASIN AKGUL (AFP)

The biggest obstacle for Imamoglu is that he faces a prison sentence of more than two years and another five years of political disqualification, which a court sentenced him for calling the members of the Electoral Board "stupid" who ordered the elections to be repeated the mayoralty of Istanbul that he had won. The sentence is pending confirmation by the Supreme Court, but several members of Erdogan's party have already signaled that they would go for him as soon as the presidential elections were over. There are also accusations about corruption that Imamoglu considers a set-up.

"The disqualification could curtail Imamoglu's political career in the new term, since it would prevent him from running in the 2024 municipal elections and the 2028 presidential elections. The current regime dislikes Imamoglu and through the courts wants to neutralize him," explains columnist Nagehan Alçi to EL PAÍS: “In this way, he would achieve control of the Istanbul City Council before the elections, which is also a very important source of income. This way of acting goes against the rules of the rule of law, but unfortunately I think it is very likely to happen.

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