İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the first person pushing for a major overhaul of the CHP following a defeat in the presidential election in May, has said they launched a new website to collect comments from the public and suggestions for change in the party, local media reported on Tuesday.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won a runoff election on May 28 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 the defeat in the runoff, in which Erdoğan won 52.18 percent of the vote to Kılıçdaroğlu’s 47.82 percent, calls from leading figures from within the CHP are growing for a major overhaul of the party.
Many figures from the party, including parliamentary group deputy chairman Özgür Özel, showed support for the calls for change initiated by İmamoğlu.
The mayor tweeted on Sunday that the website was accessible at iktidaricindegisim.org (change for political power), inviting people to convey their views and recommendations for the process of “change in the CHP, change in Turkey and change for political power.”
— Ekrem İmamoğlu (@ekrem_imamoglu) July 4, 2023
A statement on the website says the platform is designed to seek answers to questions about the preferences of the electorate regarding “what kind of Turkey, what kind of CHP, what kind of politics and what kind of opposition” they would like to see and to invite as many citizens as possible to participate in the process of change.
“We are facing an opposition structure that has not been effective or able to serve as an alternative to the political power,” İmamoğlu said, adding that they failed had to meet the demand for change from opposition voters and establish the trust and hope needed to change the regime during the parliamentary and presidential elections in May.
It was noted in the website statement that the opposition can’t make accurate assessments for the future without confronting the reasons behind these defeats.
The mayor further stated that the key to change in the opposition lies with the CHP since a resolute will for change that begins in the main opposition party would lead to renewal throughout the opposition and a determination to expand the scope of opposition.
The announcement of the website came a few hours after Kılıçdaroğlu said during his party’s group meeting that he had initiated a “significant change” in Turkey by garnering the votes of 25 million people from all walks of life in the recent presidential election.
“If this change, which was supported by 25 million [people], is not sufficient, the failure is mine. It is also my duty to generate new changes that will increase this number,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
According to Turkish media reports, there is an increasing perception of division in the CHP between the “Kılıçdaroğlu camp” and the “İmamoğlu camp” and that statements from politicians such as “Change should be managed by Kılıçdaroğlu” despite İmamoğlu’s statements of wanting to “lead the change” are also seen as a reflection of this division.
Meanwhile, the ongoing agenda of change within the CHP has been further highlighted with information that İmamoğlu and Tunç Soyer, the mayor of İzmir from the CHP, met in İstanbul on Tuesday morning to talk about the potential overhaul of the party.
İmamoğlu had argued last month that superficial changes such as overhauling the party’s central management committee would not be enough and that he believed a comprehensive overhaul at all levels was needed.
Journalist Fatih Altaylı on June 19 quoted İmamoğlu as saying that if necessary, the upcoming overhaul of the CHP should include a change in the party’s leadership.
The mayor said there would be no chance of success in the 2024 local elections if the current situation continues.
İmamoğlu ended the years-long Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule in İstanbul when he defeated the AKP’s mayoral candidate in the local elections of 2019. He won a rerun election by a larger margin than the first, which had been canceled due to supposed irregularities.