Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has defended his party's decision to boycott the parliamentary oath-taking ceremony on Tuesday, saying the party's decision not to attend the oath ceremony was a historic one.
“The decision we have taken today is no ordinary one. This is an important page in our history of democracy. What is there for us to say at a General Assembly session or on a commission in a place where there is no supremacy of law. Sometimes you can bring the world's attention to your issues with an action you take. Democracy will either come to Turkey, or it won't. There is no other way,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in televised remarks on Tuesday night.
Answering questions from Fatih Altaylı, the host of the “Teke Tek” (One to One) political talk show on Haber Türk on Tuesday night, Kılıçdaroğlu said his party had failed to garner the percentage of votes it had targeted because he didn't have enough time to explain his party's projects to the people before the June 12 elections in the short period of time since he was elected as CHP leader in May 2010.
He reiterated his earlier accusation that some of his party's local branches, particularly İstanbul, hadn't worked hard enough. He said, however, his party was launching a campaign starting Sept. 1 during which CHP deputies will visit every town in Anatolia. “We will ask them why they didn't vote for us. We'll ask them what we need to do to earn their votes.”
Kılıçdaroğlu told Altaylı he agreed with the assessment put forward by many analysts that former CHP leader Deniz Baykal and the party's former secretary-general, Önder Sav, had united against him after the elections. The two men called for an emergency convention. “I never asked them why they wanted to convene a congress. There is nothing shameful or wrong about holding a party congress. You can call a congress, you can criticize party administrators. This is what's different about the CHP, but the criticism shouldn't be taken to a level where it is hurting the image of the party. Every member of the party should be careful about this. I do respect criticism, but I won't allow insults,” he said.
In response to a question on what he thought of allegations of vote rigging in the elections, Kılıçdaroğlu said he didn't agree with the generally held idea that there is no cheating in the general elections, adding: “However, I don't think there was fraud to an extent to affect the overall results. Our rivals in the elections weren't political parties but the state itself,” he said.
The CHP leader was angry about various courts' decision not to release two newly elected CHP deputies – who are currently on trial for coup-attempt-related charges. He said the judges who had refused to release the CHP deputies, who the CHP holds now have parliamentary immunity and should be released to serve in Parliament, were acting controversially. He said keeping someone in jail without a conviction for 800 days was unacceptable according to universally accepted legal standards.
He said there was no legal obstacle in the way of the two deputies – journalist Mustafa Balbay and university rector Mehmet Haberal – being sworn in as deputies.
“We don't want immunity. But we want them to have the right to vote and be elected. You say the nation voted these people in; then you tell the nation that you are throwing their votes into the trashcan. These people have never been convicted, they have run in the elections, and they have been elected. This has really hurt the social conscience. This is a test of democracy.”
He said his party expected the justice minister, who heads the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), to warn the judges about their refusal to release the two men, saying the rulings are in violation of the Constitution and the supremacy of law. “Nobody can ignore these facts. It is as if we have already cast international law aside,” he said.