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Özel signals readiness for party leadership amid CHP’s electoral setback

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Following recent electoral losses, Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) parliamentary leader Özgür Özel has signaled his willingness to run for party leadership at an upcoming congress.

Leading figures within the CHP have been sending strong signals of an imminent and dramatic transformation within the party, including the potential for a shift in the leadership, since CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s defeat to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a runoff election on May 28 as the joint candidate of an opposition alliance.

Erdoğan won 52.18 percent of the vote to Kılıçdaroğlu’s 47.82 percent despite an economic crisis and anger over the response to February earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people.

“I am willing to undertake any task to prevent this party from suffering defeat again. If that means [vying for] the chairmanship, then so be it,” Özel said in an interview with Halk TV on Thursday.

Özel’s comments come as debates about prospective changes within the CHP continue to grow. He also addressed the issue of İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, who has been leading the calls for party reforms.

In the interview, Özel endorsed İmamoğlu’s potential candidacy in the next local elections. He suggested that a successful campaign in İstanbul would position İmamoğlu as a strong contender for national leadership.

Özel, however, dismissed suggestions that he would transfer the chairmanship to İmamoğlu following the local elections should he win the party leadership.

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