In his speech on Saturday, the CHP’s new leader, Kılıçdaroğlu, supported defendants in the trial of Ergenekon — a clandestine organization whose suspected members are charged with attempting to overthrow the government — saying his party planned to abolish specially authorized courts when it comes to power.
The pictures of some jailed suspects in the Ergenekon trial were shown on a big screen inside the congress hall, hinting that the CHP’s future policies regarding this trial will not be any different from the Baykal era.
He also opposed the constitutional reform package and only mentioned democratization in one sentence. The emphasis on secularism, a dominant tone in Baykal’s speeches, was replaced with the economy.
Kılıçdaroğlu made no mention of the Kurdish question. He simplified the Kurdish question to economic problems. He said they would offer loans with no interest payments for would-be investors in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern region of Turkey. However, it is a known fact that such incentives — many of which are currently in application — do not solve the problem or draw investors.
Kılıçdaroğlu also promised that land mine-infested plots of land would be cleared and nationalized for public use.
Regarding foreign policy, he said that they would not yield to the European Union’s double standards, hinting that his approach to the EU is not going to be very different from that of Baykal.
Kılıçdaroğlu was elected as the party’s new chairman with 1,189 votes (all of the valid votes cast) from 1,270 delegates. The first people to congratulate Kılıçdaroğlu were Baykal and President Abdullah Gül.
The congress strengthened Secretary-General Önder Sav’s “shadow leadership,” and there are already profound rifts stemming from the appointments made to the Party Council.
The CHP’s new bylaws, passed in 2008 but still not in force, were suspended at the snap of a finger with a proposal from 77 provincial branch leaders. This effectively shelves changes that would have limited Sav’s powers as the secretary-general. Sav has managed to maintain his presence as the party’s powerful second-in-command. The election of Party Council members has turned into a war inside the CHP between Sav’s supporters and those who want change.