Turkish main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) new leader Özgür Özel and İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener on Nov. 30 met at the latter party’s headquarters in the capital Ankara to discuss “collaboration” for the upcoming local elections.
CHP Secretary General Selin Sayek Böke, Deputy Chairs Gül Çiftçi and Gökhan Zeybek, and Group Deputy Chair Gökhan Günaydın; and İYİ Party Deputy Chairs Oktay Vural, Burak Akburak, Ayfer Yılmaz and Group Chair Koray Aydın were present at the meeting.
After the meeting which lasted about 1.5 hours, CHP leader Özgür Özel said he offered the İYİ Party to collaborate for some municipalities in the local elections to be held on March 31, 2024.
İYİ Party previously decided to field mayoral candidates in all provinces.
“We respect this decision. But we asked the İYİ Party whether we can cooperate in the upcoming local elections, whether the party decision can be reviewed again, whether the people appointed by our parties would have the opportunity to work together for a cooperation regarding the local elections in the next period, if possible,” Özel said.
Akşener said they would review Özel’s offer in the upcoming General Administrative Board (GİK) meeting of her party on Nov. 4.
After the electoral defeat of the opposition in the general and presidential elections in May, Akşener and the İYİ Party have openly criticized the alliance system, saying it fueled polarization in the country.
In the general election, The CHP received 25.35 percent of the votes, whereas the İYİ Party remained at 9.69.
ANALYSIS: CHP offer could split IYIP
After his election, İYİ Party staff said that the attitude towards Özel, the new leader of the CHP, was “neutral” compared to the detested former leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Yet, it was underlined that they did not expect a cooperation offer from Ozel, which turned out to be wrong today.
If a step is taken from the CHP with the election of Özel as the leader, the way for dialogue seems open, but the staff of the İYİ Party are approaching cautiously. IYIP is deeply divided between a nationalist constituency preferring re-engagement with the governing coalition and an equally large second one which claim at least in some cities the strategy of forging alliances is the best for the party.
At the CHP ranks, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM) Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu made critical evaluations about the agenda in the live broadcast program he attended on Halk TV, a pro-opposition newscaster.
He stated: “We had a productive and positive conversation with Akşener. Everything should be talked about until the last word is said. At this point, I do not have the right to propose cooperation in Istanbul. I only had a conversation with Mr. Akşener in the language of good will. I also attach importance to this conversation and think that cooperation can be possible.
İyi Parti: Do not expect either alliance or cooperation
As for the İyi Party, which entered the local elections on March 31, 2019 by forming the Nation Alliance together with the CHP, there is no possibility that the Özgür Özel-Meral Akşener meeting will bring a new alliance or cooperation for the upcoming elections, claims pro-AKP sources.
While Akşener’s close staff emphasized that the decision taken by the General Administrative Board (GİK) was binding, they said, “We are dedicated to enter the elections with our own candidates in 81 provinces. İyi Party has the will to assert itself in the upcoming elections and show its capacity to the society. There is no reversal from the decision we made at GİK in this regard. Now, contrary to this decision, it would be wrong to expect alliance or cooperation.
It is noteworthy that the same staff commented, “We will actually nominate our own candidates in these provinces” when asked “Will there be no cooperation for Istanbul or Ankara?”
The contradictory flow of news prior and after Ozel’s proposal for local alliances reflects IYIP’s internal divisions. As the party shed members of Congress after the elections, with headline-grabbing departures of former heavyweights, such as ex-Central Bank governor Durmus Yilmaz, Aksener’s ability to steer the party out of the current existential crisis came under attack. Assuming the GIK will be divided among pro- and cons regarding collaboration with CHP, it is likely that Aksener will have to cast the tie-breaking vote. Her challenge is to cast that vote without alienating those who don’t agree with it. It is quite possible that no matter which way she leans, there will be more resignations from the party.
Turkish press sources, PA Turkey staff
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