Turkey’s main opposition party to hold first day of general convention

Turkey’s largest opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), will hold the first day of its general convention today amid

Kemal Kilicdaroglu chairman of Turkeys largest opposition party

Photo: Umit Bektas/Reuters

Turkey’s largest opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), will hold the first day of its general convention today amid an intensifying internal debate over the party’s political trajectory.

CHP chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is expected to be re-elected with little opposition, but the battle for the 60 seats in the Party Assembly will be far more competitive, as results could potentially alienate internal CHP dissidents.

The CHP—historically a secular and nationalist party strictly loyal to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s founding ideology—has experienced an identity crisis in recent years due to widespread criticism of its weak and static style of opposition. As such, the party is looking to expand its voter base and form alliances ahead of the 2023 elections, as the popularity of the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) slowly wanes.

If the CHP’s left-wing social democrats dominate the Assembly, the party may be more inclined to approach the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in order to appeal to the Kurdish vote, which contributed greatly to its Istanbul victory in June 2019. However, since the party is already allied with the nationalist Good Party, the CHP’s more conservative members are likely to take the most seats. If this is the case, the CHP will likely attempt to form an alliance with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s former colleagues, who now lead the Future Party and the Democracy and Progress Party.

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