Hold on to power
There is so much speculation going on about ‘the sex tapes’ of Deniz Baykal, that I eagerly add my own speculation: Baykal put the video online himself. It looks like the whole scandal will strengthen Baykal’s position as CHP leader.
The facts are: Deniz Baykal, CHP leader since 1992, stepped down as leader of his party after a compromising tape of him and his (then)secretary was put online. An old tape, by the way: about 8 years old. He made the decision very quickly after the tape had gone public, saying that he was the victim of a political plot. He blamed amongst others the AKP for leaking the tape. This was denied by AKP leader Erdogan, who said he actually prevented the tapes from being released years ago, and the funny thing is, a journalist confirmed that fact. The journalist knew of the tape, but Erdogan made clear his life as a journalist would be finished if he published anything about it – nice example of how journalism can work here.
Anyway, immediately after Baykal stepped down, a group emerged within the CHP calling on him to return as leader. Soon some MP’s joined the plea, and they have now visited Baykal to ask him to take up his old position again. Baykal has already said that, if ‘the public requests it’, he might return.
In ten days’ time the big CHP congress will be held, at which the new leader is always ‘elected’. There is not really an open race, in Turkish politics the party leaders behave as dictators and if you support another candidate and that person doesn’t make it, (because of internal pressure on voters not to support any other candidate than the incumbent), you can be expelled from the party. Baykal loves power; he is just as much a party dictator as any other party leader in Turkey.
What if he was afraid that this time he wouldn’t be able to hold on to power at the congress? For example, Kilicdaroglu, the man who tried to become mayor of Istanbul, is still popular within the party, and he is now also mentioned as the possible successor to Baykal. Baykal is about seventy years old, he gets some criticism because he is very rigid and because he has turned the old social democrat party into a very nationalist one that is only social democrat in name.
What if Baykal thought he needed something big to get sympathy again within the party? Of course, cheating on your wife doesn’t necessarily get you sympathy, but stepping down very quickly makes it look like you take responsibility. Then you can say others tried to disqualify you by releasing the tape, and you blame people for it without proof. For some years you have been so effective in your dictator role, that many people actually believe the party is nothing without you, and you count on them to call you back to office. They do, and then you can say you are returning because ‘the public wants you to’. Then the party congress comes along, and you will be elected again as the leader, stronger in the position than ever.
Again, it’s speculation. I don’t know what happened. Nobody knows. But it’s a possible scenario.
I think the voters can distinguish two things. Among many I also think that the way Baykal had to resign was unacceptable. I definitely think that this was not the job of Baykal. If it was so, he would not have resigned in the first place. On the other hand, inspite of the fact that his end was totally dramatic, I do not want him to come back. Many polls in Turkey among CHP voters suggest that Kilicdaroğlu has the support of more than 70% of the voters. This, slightly different than your claim, is his popularity within the voters of the party. Within the party, which means the decision makers of the party in Turkey, he seems to have no support which is why he can not even dare to run for being the party leader. Decision makers of the party consist of 1100 delegates who were assigned by Baykal and/or his crew.