Six parliamentary candidates nominated to run representing the Republican People's Party (CHP) in Denizli in the June 12 general elections have refused to meet with İlhan Cihaner, a last-minute Denizli candidate listed in the second spot, moving the earlier second-place nominee and those below him down and pushing the seventh candidate off the list.
Cihaner, a prosecutor by profession, is a defendant in the ongoing trial of alleged members of Ergenekon, a clandestine group accused of plotting to overthrow the government. The CHP has nominated four defendants in the case, including journalist Mustafa Balbay and academic Mehmet Haberal, who will be released from jail if they are elected to Parliament. The nominations are controversial and unnerving, even for some of the CHP's members. However, Cihaner's candidacy, mainly because it was expected to be in Erzincan but was announced in Denizli at the last minute, has met with the strongest reaction from the CHP's Denizli branches.
Cihaner's nomination was unexpected as it occurred at the last minute, after the Supreme Election Board (YSK) introduced a change to the procedure, increasing the nominee quota for political parties.
Cihaner on Wednesday arrived in Denizli, where he was met by CHP Denizli Chapter President Himmet Yavaş, the head of the central district branch Ömer Yurtseven and a number of CHP members. However, none of the other candidates who were nominated in Denizli went to greet Cihaner. During the day, he visited the Denizli Organized Industrial Zone, after which he visited the CHP Denizli Provincial Branch headquarters. The other candidates did not join him during these activities either.
In remarks he made during his visit to the CHP Denizli headquarters, Cihaner said: “What matters is that the political process goes on in a gentlemanly way and at a certain level. Please do not pay any attention to certain fights others might want to start through me or the lowly attacks.” Members of various Alevi associations from Denizli and other towns, as well as from İzmir and Ankara, also met Cihaner at the Denizli headquarters.
He harshly criticized the government, saying: “We need to bring down this government of thugs together. They are thieves, they are public enemies. I believe that together we will establish a government of the people.”