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July 18, 2012, Wednesday

Yet another CHP congress

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) renewed its frequently voiced commitment to change at its 34th congress. There are rumors that party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu saw the congress as an opportunity to strengthen his party against the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) ahead of local polls slated for 2014. However, columnists agree that unless the CHP comes through on its promise of change with solid action, the promising words at congresses will not mean anything.

Star’s Fehmi Koru says while watching the congress he became suspicious of whether the CHP, which is looking for a new future for itself, was aiming to achieve this by repeating what the AK Party did in its own way. Koru says this is fine as it is but that in order to repeat something, first you have to observe and understand it well. He questions what will happen if the CHP does not understand correctly why the AK Party became so powerful. What made Koru think of all of this is some pro-CHP columnists’ suggestion to the party that the CHP should be like the AK Party: While preserving its own ideology, it should adopt an identity that appeals to people outside of that ideology. However, behind the AK Party’s success is its democratic reforms and economic improvements; the CHP should focus more on plans for such improvements rather than aiming to appeal different segments of society, Koru maintains. Also the AK Party was relatively newly founded and clearly declared its stance and ideology from the beginning. But if the 90-year-old CHP suddenly declares its aim to become a “new CHP,” then it should explain how it is going to renew itself, he says.

Koray Çalışkan from Radikal focuses on the diversity of people’s profiles in the hall in which Tuesday’s congress took place and says that a photo of a headscarved woman standing next to a non-headscarved woman during the congress is what is to be achieved with the slogan of “the new CHP.” “That photo is the photo of the new CHP,” says Çalışkan.

Zaman’s Mustafa Ünal says the CHP declared this congress’s theme “change,” but words and promises mean nothing unless they are put into action and adopted as new policy. The CHP has promised a change in its ideology and inclination to leftism; yet Kılıçdaroğlu mentioned Mustafa Kemal Atatürk more than ever at this congress and stressed that the party is an old and deep-rooted plane tree, deriving its strength from its history. That said, Ünal wonders to what extent the CHP can truly change.

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