The DP has recently stepped up efforts to find a new leader, a move it embarked upon after merging with the Motherland Party (ANAVATAN) last year. The merger was engineered by former President Süleyman Demirel and former Prime Minister Mesut Yılmaz. However, it has not brought the expected benefits of synergy to the party.
Hüsamettin Cindoruk, the DP’s current chairman, is resisting stepping down, and the party is preparing for a congress on June 12. Professor Süheyl Batum, who has been on Cindoruk’s side for the last six months, is now in the ranks of the CHP.
Senior members of the DP are now preparing to present a formal declaration to Çiller, also signed by Yılmaz, to convince her to return to the party. Meanwhile, Cindoruk has ordered that the DP congress be held without a vote for the leadership election. The first to criticize this decision were the DP’s former ANAVATAN members.
Although Yılmaz has started to support the idea of Çiller’s return to the DP, Çiller and Yılmaz have been archrivals, and Çiller doesn’t agree with Demirel and Cindoruk. During the Feb. 28, 1997 postmodern coup, Cindoruk parted ways with Çiller’s DYP and established the Democratic Turkey Party (DTP). Çiller had previously said she was not considering joining the ranks of the DP under the leadership of Cindoruk.
Having signed off on the National Security Council’s (MGK) decisions, then-Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan resigned in 1997, handing over the Prime Ministry to his coalition partner, Çiller. The president at the time, Demirel, was expected to ask Çiller to form a Cabinet; however, surprisingly, he asked Motherland Party (ANAP, now ANAVATAN) leader Yılmaz to do so. However, the government formed by Yılmaz was unable to get a vote of confidence in Parliament. At this point Demirel intervened in the process and asked his confidants in the DYP to resign and join the Democratic Turkey Party (DTP), founded by Cindoruk, thereby forming an alternative coalition government.
Sources close to Çiller say that she wants to return to politics but is finding it difficult to make a decision because of recent developments. The DYP groups’ former deputy head, Nevzat Ercan, said it would be difficult for Çiller to make a comeback before the 2011 elections.
On the other hand, some DP members say that Çiller will re-evaluate the situation after the DP’s June 12 congress and will postpone her decision until October, when the DP will have another congress. The results of the Sept. 12 referendum on the constitutional amendment package are also expected to influence Çiller’s decision.
New names emerge
Demirel’s recent stance shows that he is now supporting the CHP after its long-time leader Deniz Baykal had to resign over a sex scandal; the hopes to revive the party are on the shoulders of its new leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
As a result of these developments, senior DP members have been in search of a new leader. They have approached Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB) President Rıfat Hisarcıklıoğlu, who will step down as TOBB president in May, but he turned the offer down.
Then the offer went to CHP İstanbul deputy İlhan Kesici, who is one of the people who transferred to the CHP from the center right during the July 22, 2007 elections. Kesici, who was not keen on the idea, said that a DP under the doctrine of Cindoruk and Demirel would not be successful. However, as Kılıçdaroğlu did not include Kesici in the upper-party ranks, Kesici might choose to become a member of the DP.
Members of the DP are also in contact with Democratic Left Party (DSP) Eskişehir Mayor Yılmaz Büyükerşen. Professor Büyükerşen attended the DP-ANAVATAN merger assembly but did not decide on whether to join the party. CHP members have also approached Büyükerşen.