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Turkey’s opposition figures founding new political parties, citing need for change in politics

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Two political figures from the Turkish opposition have announced their plans to launch new political parties, arguing that the current opposition parties have failed to properly address the problems of Turkey’s citizens.

One of them is Muharrem İnce, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), while the other is former presidential candidate Mustafa Sarıgül, the CHP’s former mayor of İstanbul’s Şişli district and a candidate for metropolitan mayor in 2014.

A claim from a pro-government journalist suggesting that Ümit Özdağ, a former deputy chair of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and a former İYİ (Good) Party İstanbul lawmaker who was dismissed from the party on November 16, might also launch a new party was denied by the politician.

After being expelled by the İYİ Party disciplinary board in a unanimous decision for making unfounded allegations about the party’s İstanbul chair, saying he had terrorist links, Özdağ denied the claims that he has plans to establish a new political party, adding that he would go to court as he thinks his expulsion was unjust.

In August İnce announced the “Country Movement in a Thousand Days” while still a member of the CHP and has been visiting Turkey’s cities to talk to citizens about his newly founded platform since early September.

Receiving just over 30 percent of the vote and coming in second behind first-round winner Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the 2018 presidential election, İnce wasn’t shy about his ambition to run for a second time for the presidency as well as for the CHP leadership.

His decision to launch a new political movement came after the CHP general assembly re-elected current leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for another term. The chairman also reshaped his cabinet following the internal election, sidelining İnce and his followers from the leadership.

“I’m starting a journey to increase that 31 percent [of the vote] to 51 percent,” İnce declared in August, hinting that his political movement might evolve into a party.

Speaking to journalist Fatih Portakal on his YouTube channel on Tuesday, the politician announced that he would form a new political party, breaking away from the CHP, adding that they are currently working on a name and logo for the new political formation.

Sarıgül, leader of the Movement for Change in Turkey (TDH) who allegedly has been holding talks with some CHP lawmakers to join his political movement, also announced earlier this month that he would share his party’s name, logo and corporate identity with the public on Dec. 17 and officially launch it on Dec. 20.

Formerly a member of CHP, Sarıgül resigned twice from the party, with the latest resignation taking place in January 2019. His movement held its first meeting in Ankara on Nov. 17 at which they discussed the party’s program, principles and roadmap.

As the new opposition parties began to emerge, experts warned that splitting the opposition would likely reduce their chances of winning future elections and thus aid the incumbent, President Erdoğan.

When asked about claims that his movement was supported by Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) in an attempt to divide and weaken the Turkish opposition, İnce denied the claims on several occasions, emphasizing that he is against both the government and the opposition.

The politician had formerly criticized the main opposition CHP for failing to gain people’s trust even in an environment where Turkey’s political power cannot solve many of the country’s problems, including poverty, a depreciating lira and unemployment.

Sarıgül also commented on criticism that his party would divide the opposition votes, saying that it wouldn’t be the right move if the percentage of votes for the AKP and the CHP were closer.

“We didn’t turn the TDH into a party back in 2010 out of deference to the CHP. But they have since failed to come to power, and now we need to make way for a new political formation. And that’s the TDH,” he added.

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