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İstanbul Mayor İmamoğlu calls for overhaul of Turkey’s main opposition party after election defeat

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İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, a member of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), is pushing for a major overhaul of the CHP following President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s win in a runoff election on May 28.

Turkey’s divisive leader won the May 28 runoff against a powerful opposition coalition that nominated CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as its presidential candidate, despite an economic crisis and anger over the response to February earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people.

After a bruising defeat in the recent presidential runoff, calls are growing for a major overhaul of the CHP.

İmamoğlu, who recently met with Kılıçdaroğlu, said on Wednesday that superficial changes, such as renewing the party’s central management committee, won’t be enough. He said he believes a comprehensive overhaul at all levels is needed.

In an indirect critique of Kılıçdaroğlu, İmamoğlu proposed himself as the ideal person to lead the transformation. “We need to be much more than a different face at the top,” he said, pointing to the need for broad, deep-seated change.

However, Kılıçdaroğlu has downplayed the significance of the meeting with İmamoğlu, indicating a potential lack of urgency in addressing the challenges within the CHP.

As the fallout from the election continues, demands for Kılıçdaroğlu’s resignation are growing among opposition media pundits. Critics argue that he has yet to offer a comprehensive account of the factors leading to the CHP’s defeat in the presidential and parliamentary elections.

Despite these calls, sources close to Kılıçdaroğlu told the Middle East Eye news website that he plans to remain in his position until the upcoming mayoral elections. He reportedly hopes to maintain his grand alliance among opposition parties, including the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which previously allowed the opposition to secure victories in major cities, including İstanbul and Ankara, in 2019.

Yet questions remain about the effectiveness of this strategy following its apparent failure in the recent election cycle.

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