Turkish opposition has new leader

ISTANBUL – Turkey’s biggest opposition party, the CHP, has a new leader after eighteen years. Kemal Kilicdaroglu was elected chairman with a historic majority on the party’s convention on Saturday. The previous party leader, Deniz Baykal, recently stepped down after a sex scandal.

The CHP congress this weekend in Ankara is already being called the ‘congress of hope’: party supporters hope that the new leader will take the party back to its social democratic roots. The previous leader was criticised a lot because he was uncompromising towards governing party AKP, and because he lost sight of social democratic policies. Under Baykal’s rule, the CHP couldn’t do anything against the AKP: the party lost election after election.

Kilicdaroglu, a Kurd and Alevi, is called by some ‘the Turkish Gandhi’. The nickname is mainly based on his appearance (small, with glasses and somewhat vulnerable) and his image: calm and serene. He can not be judged yet by his actions; the dictatorial structure of (most) Turkish political parties hasn’t yet given Kilicdaroglu a chance to profile himself next to Baykal.

Last year Kilicdaroglu tried in vain to become the mayor of Istanbul.

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  1. […] Kemal Kilicdaroglu has led the party since earlier this year, when he took over from Deniz Baykal (read more on that here). He wanted to reform the internal structure of the party, and by so doing take away the power of […]

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