Muharrem İnce

Erdoğan’s former rival for Presidency creates his own party

Muharrem İnce announced to media a new “political movement” criticising both Erdoğan and Kılıçdaroğlu.

Muharrem İnce, who was Erdoğan’s main rival in Turkey’s 2018 presidential elections as a joint opposition candidate, has finally taken the step of founding his own political party after years of disputes with the leadership of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and with its president, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, whom he has always accused of not supporting him in his presidential career.

During a press conference held on Thursday to announce the launch of his Bin Günde Memleket Hareketi (“Movement of the Fatherland in 1,000 days”), İnce assured that Turkey has a problem in both the government and the opposition and that it needs to leave the current political stalemate. “Even if I resigned from the CHP, that would mean saving the party. We are presenting a new alternative for Turkey,” he said.

İnce has been a dissident voice within the CHP -the main opposition party- since the June 2018 presidential election, in which he was the joint opposition candidate and managed to garner more votes than his own party leader -Kılıçdaroğlu- despite the fact that the leadership of the CHP, according to İnce, gave him little support, fearing that his triumph could overshadow Kılıçdaroğlu himself, who was recently re-elected president of the party without opposition.

In recent weeks, rumors about possible İnce movements to found a new political party had intensified, although İnce insists that it is not a new party but an entire political movement. “Turkey’s problems cannot be solved either by a one-man government or by a one-man opposition. Turkey is not without alternatives,” he said.

Objective: the elections in Turkey in 2023

During his appearance, İnce criticised both current Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the president of the CHP, noting that in the coming days he will announce who will accompany him on his new political adventure. “The Fatherland Movement will begin on September 4 in Sivas,” he said. Sivas is a city in central-eastern Turkey of great historical significance, since this was where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk organised a congress that launched the Turkish War of Independence.

According to İnce, one of the CHP’s big problems is that it has no ambitions to come to power, and its current president -who has never won an election- has not been able to reach new voters either. The former presidential candidate once again accused the leadership of the CHP of undermining his run for the Presidency and of not supporting him, and defended himself against some of the criticisms levelled against him in those elections.

“The delegates (of the CHP) in the polling stations did not do their job. Four million votes went to trash. How could I present myself to the people on election night? They had not given me the data (of the count),” argued İnce, who was widely criticised at the time for not appearing on election night.

For now, Erdoğan’s former rival plans to visit the country’s 81 provinces over a period of 1,000 days -about 3 years- to promote his political movement until the next parliamentary and presidential elections in June 2023. Maybe for now it is only a “movement”, but everything indicates that İnce’s ambitions are to found his own party, and from the CHP itself there are already voices that accuse him of not playing fair and of blackmailing his still party for not giving him more political role.