Baykal’s political career started in 1973 and he served as the Finance Minister in the government established by Bülent Ecevit in 1974 and as the Energy and Natural Resources Minister in another Ecevit government between 1977 and 1978. Baykal became the chairman of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), which was closed down after the military coup of September 12, 1980, but re-established when the ban on political parties was removed. Baykal served as the chairman until the party congress for merger with the Social Democratic People’s Party (SHP), and he was re-elected as CHP’s chairman in the opening congress of the CHP held on September 9-10, 1995. Baykal resigned from his office when the CHP failed to pass the election threshold in the 1999 elections. Yet, he was re-elected as the chairman in the extraordinary party congress held on September 30, 2000. Since then, he has been serving as CHP chairman.
Baykal’s A team before Nov. 3
The A team Baykal set up before the elections of November 3, 2002 consisted of Zülfü Livaneli, a singer, Yaşar Nuri Öztürk, a prominent divinity professor, former Kocaeli Mayor Sefa Sirmen, former İstanbul Mayor Nurettin Sözen, ret. Ambassador İnal Batu, former Confederation of Turkish Labor Union (Türk-İş) Chairman Bayram Meral, former Economy Minister Kemal Derviş, Mehmet Akif Hamzaçebi, a bureaucrat from the Finance Ministry, and former Social Security Authority (SSK) General Director Kemal Kılıçtaroğlu. Professor Hakkı Akalın, a famous physician in İzmir, Professor Mehmet Tomanbay, Professor Muzaffer Kurtulmuşoğlu, Bülent Tanla, a well-known poll expert, and Ahmet Güryüz Ketenci, too, joined this team. Moreover, former Sports Minister Fikret Ünlü and State Minister Mustafa Yılmaz of the DSP became members of the CHP.
Dissolution from Baykal’s A team started early. İstanbul Deputy Livaneli resigned from the party. Öztürk parted his ways with Baykal and established his own party, the People’s Ascent Party (HYP). Derviş quit the CHP to work for the UN. Batu resigned from the party to join the True Path Party (DYP). Sirmen disclosed that he would not run for parliament. Akalın and Ketenci resigned from the party to join the SHP. Although Tanla has been a loyal member of Baykal’s A team, he is about to leave the party since he has close ties with CHP Şişli Mayor Mustafa Sarıgül, a rival of Baykal. Ankara Deputy Tomanbay did not even apply for candidacy for Parliament. Kurtulmuşoğlu resigned from the party to join the Motherland Party (ANAVATAN). Ünlü and Yılmaz disclosed that they would not run for parliament from the CHP’s list.
The surviving members of Baykal’s A team are Meral, Kocaeli Deputy Kılıçtaroğlu, and Trabzon Deputy Hamzaçebi.
Many come and go
Baykal had established the CHP in 1992 together with Ertuğrul Günay, İsmail Cem, Uluç Gürkan and Professor Mümtaz Soysal, who had resigned from the SHP. These prominent figures of the left wing politics were indispensable members of Baykal’s A team, but soon or later they all left Baykal’s side. Günay started as the secretary general of the CHP, but he ended in utter dissension with Baykal. Yalçın Doğan, a columnist at Hürriyet daily, describes the fact that Günay is invited to the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) as a political tragedy. Günay, Cem, Gürkan and Soysal joined the DSP. Günay later resigned from the DSP and is currently not involved in active politics.
Baykal later recruited former SHP Secretary General Aydın Güven Gürkan, former CHP Secretary General Adnan Keskin, former Culture Minister Ercan Karakaş, former Culture Minister Fikri Sağlar, former Tourism Minister İrfan Gürpınar, Professor Mümtaz Soysal, former Foreign Minister İsmail Cem, former Foreign Minister Murat Karayalçın, former Foreign Minister Hikmet Çetin, former Economy Minister Onur Kumbaracıbaşı, and former Gaziantep Mayor Celal Doğan. However, all of these politicians soon had to part their ways with Baykal. Altan Öymen, who became the CHP’s chairman after Baykal’s resignation following the election defeat, left the CHP when he lost his office to Baykal in 2000. Kocaeli Deputy Bekir Yurdagül and Bursa Deputy Yüksel Aksu left Baykal’s side after tree years. Retired Ambassador Şükrü Elekdağ is reportedly to do the same.
Who are included in the new A team?
Baykal will set up a new A team for the early elections to be held on July 22. This new team is like to consist of Nur Serter, from İstanbul University, Support for Modern Life Association (ÇYDD) Chairwoman Professor Türkan Saylan, Union of Civil Society Organizations (STKB) Chairwoman Professor Necla Arat, Turkish Tradesmen and Artisans’ Confederation Chairman Derviş Günday, journalist Tuncay Özkan, Professor Esfender Korkmaz, former Chief Prosecutor of Supreme Court of Appeal Sabih Kanadoğlu, and retired Gendarmerie General Commander Gen. Şener Eruygur, the mastermind of the Republic rallies. Baykal is also trying to recruit former Foreign Minister Şükrü Sina Gürel, affiliated with the DSP, in addition to his A team dignitaries Önder Sav, Onur Öymen, Birgen Keleş, Oya Araslı, Mehmet Sevgin, Eşref Erdem, Bihlun Tamaylıgil, and Mehmet Neşşar. Hür Party Chairman Yaşar Okuyan, a prominent center right figure, former Health Minister Halil Şıvgın, and İsmail Amasyalı, too, will probably be in the new team. Former Finance Minister Zekeriya Temizel declined Baykal’s invitation and Yücel Aşkın, the former rector of 100. Yıl University in Van, has not been invited to the party.