MEPs raise concern over CHP’s social democratic credentials

MEPs raise concern over CHP’s social democratic credentials

CHP leader Deniz Baykal last year made an excursion in an armored vehicle in Edirne, submerged by the waters of the Maritsa and Tunca Rivers.

May 05, 2007, Saturday/ 20:18:00/ SELÇUK GÜLTAŞLI
Members of the European Parliament have criticized Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) for its stance in the latest political turmoil and said the party should immediately change course to meet the appropriate standards for a social democratic party.

"The CHP gives the impression that it is an opportunist party. Its commitment to EU reforms is very vague as well," Liberal Member of European Parliament (MEP) Andrew Duff said. "It is understood that the party is in a seriously fragile situation." The CHP applied to the Constitutional Court to get Turkey's presidential election cancelled, after which the military issued a harsh statement -- widely seen as a memorandum -- on its Web site, warning of intervention if the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) pressed ahead with its candidate, FM Abdullah Gül.

The court later cancelled the presidential election, saying there had been fewer deputies in attendance than required. CHP leader Deniz Baykal hailed the outcome as "historic" and declined to criticize the military for its "e-memorandum."

"The CHP must immediately take action to turn into a true social democratic party," said MEP Graham Watson, the leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament. Watson predicted that the latest crisis could offer the CHP a chance to "modernize," if it takes the opportunity.

According to Cem Özdemir, a Turkish-origin German MEP from the Greens, the CHP was the only side in Turkey that "failed the test." The people took to streets to clearly state that they were against coups Özdemir said, referring to two massive rallies in Ankara and İstanbul, and the AK Party declared it would go to elections to prove its commitment to democracy after the military statement.

Joost Lagendijk, another Greens MEP and also the co-chair of the Turkey-EU Parliament Joint Parliamentary Commission, noted that he frequently expresses disappointment over the role the CHP plays in Turkish politics. He lamented that the party acted as a break on EU-inspired reforms, such as plans to amend a notorious article of the Turkish Penal Code that the EU says restricts freedom of expression.

"Turkey needs a genuinely leftist party. The CHP is no longer a leftist party, it rather looks like a nationalist party and for this reason it competes with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP)," he said. "It is not possible to approve the CHP's actions," agreed Emine Bozkurt, a Socialist MEP. "I don't think its latest stance would elicit a positive reaction." Helmut Kohne, an Austrian MEP, was also critical of the CHP, saying a party that invites military intervention into politics cannot be a social democratic one. "A social democratic party must make its commitment to the principle of placing politics above the military undoubtedly clear," he said.

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