Former presidential candidate embarks on journey to form new opposition movement

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Muharrem İnce

A former presidential candidate from Turkey’s main opposition party has publicly announced his unhappiness with the party, embarking on a journey to form a new grassroots opposition movement.

Muharrem İnce was the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) presidential contender in the 2018 election, in which he managed to garner more than 30 percent of the vote, while his party received only 22.6 percent.

His achievement was a sign that he had appeal to both Kurdish and nationalist voters.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won that election with the support of 52 percent of the electorate.

“Our aim is to destroy the pessimism and to show a way out,” İnce said, criticizing the Erdoğan government.

“Turkey has a problem with both those in power and those in opposition,” he said Thursday at a press conference in Ankara, without taking any questions from the press.

He has been loudly critical of intra-party politics in recent years since failing to win the chairmanship at two CHP conventions.

“There’s nothing democratic inside the political parties,” İnce said.

Incumbent party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was the sole candidate for chairman at the July 25 party convention.

His rivals, İlhan Cihaner, Aytuğ Atıcı and Tolga Yarman, were unable to collect the necessary number of signatures to back their candidacies.

“[Erdoğan’s party] will collapse. I can see that. It will collapse on the country. Unfortunately, the CHP does not seem like a real alternative. It acts more like an observer,” İnce said.

One of his main criticisms of the party was the allegation that the CHP organization had left him alone during the 2018 presidential election.

He claimed that the CHP management did not invite him to important campaign meetings. The local organizations fell short on securing the counting of the votes, according to İnce.

A few hours after İnce’s press conference, the CHP officially denied the allegations, saying that the party had fully supported his presidential bid. The party statement claimed İnce had refused to have meetings with party officials on the day of the election.

İnce was harshly criticized for disappearing from public view on the night of the election, sparking conspiracy theories about his absence from TV.

Journalist İsmail Küçükkaya from FOX TV later presented on air a WhatsApp message from İnce saying, “The guy won,” referring to Erdoğan.

İnce will begin a series of conferences on Sept. 4 in the province of Sivas, where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, started the War of Independence.

He even named his initiative the “Memleket Hareketi” (Fatherland Movement).

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