News / Europe

Turkish Opposition Party Focused on Changing Public Image Before Election

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of Turkey's main opposition People's Republican Party (File Photo)
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of Turkey's main opposition People's Republican Party (File Photo)
Dorian Jones

Turkey's ruling AK party is facing a rejuvenated opposition in this month's general election. Under new leadership, the People's Republican Party, or CHP, has made a political about-face. Discarding its image as a staid pro-statist party, it's now seeking a new identity as an advocate of democracy.  

On Tuesday the CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu was greeted enthusiastically by thousands of Kurds in Diyarbakir- the largest city in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeast. Kilicdaroglu used the meeting to stress his party's new image. "We have changed," he said. "This is the new People's Republican Party. We are fighting for a freer Turkey, a more democratic country, and for peace for all our people in the country."

The fact that Kilicdaroglu is even visiting the Kurdish region is a political sea-change. During the last general election campaign, his predecessor Deniz Baykal did not set foot in the region and refused to even respond to the call for greater Kurdish rights.

But under Kilicdaroglu's leadership, the CHP has embraced key demands of the country's Kurdish movement over education, greater autonomy, and electoral reform.

In a Kurdish cafe in Istanbul, his speech is being closely followed. Kilicdaroglu's Diyarbakir speech was cautiously welcomed by one man in the cafe. To him, the surprise with CHP was about their stance against the Kurdish issues. He said they are better than the ruling AKP. Now Kilicdaroglu comes and says he will solve the Kurdish problem.  He said he hopes it will be like that, but he will have to wait and see.  He said he will vote for the independent Kurdish candidates, but personally if he had another vote he'd vote for CHP.

Political scientist Cengiz Aktar says he is cautious about the change in the CHP, but he sees it as an important step. "This first steps are important of course within the party there are still various voices in the party that are adamant against any modern solution to the Kurdish conflict. That being said, while CHP is trying to change the Kurdish issue, the AK ruling party is changing in the wrong direction," he said.

For decades, the CHP, created by the founder of the Turkish Republic Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, had the reputation as a party of the state. But to enhance its newly found democratic credentials,  the CHP this past weekend unveiled a detailed manifesto for democratic reform, not only for Kurds but also including reforms of the judiciary.

Political columnist of the Turkish daily Milliyet, Semih Idiz, says such reforms may help garner votes across a wider swathe of Turkish society. "There are many people who were looking for a party to be able to vote for. Anybody with slight left leaning social democratic inclination really had no one to vote for in this country," he said.

But, the party is still is struggling to discard its old image. Observers warn Kilicdaroglu still has a political mountain to climb if it wants to dent the Prime Minister's commanding lead in the polls, especially in a time of unprecedented economic growth.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More