(Photo Credit: Jon Connel’s Photostream)
The huge news here in Istanbul this week is the resignation of Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Deniz Baykal. Baykal leads the main opposition party that represents a secular, nationalist, pro-military alternative to the conservative, religiously-oriented ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
This is big news here because there are many Turks who would love to vote for a more liberal, more secular government but absolutely cannot stand Baykal, who is more “Mr. No” in Ankara than John Boehner could ever be in Washington.
On the surface, Baykal’s resignation – in the aftermath of a sex scandal that appeared to show him having sex with a fellow CHP MP – is a positive development for Turkey. Baykal invokes visceral negative reactions from many Turks here who would like to vote for the CHP as a check on the AK Party government’s growing power.
It will be interesting to watch whether Baykal’s resignation allows younger members of the party to place CHP on a more progressive course or whether Baykal will succeed in appointing one of his more reactionary-leaning aides to replace him.
The press here is even suggesting that Baykal may try to reinstate himself as party chairman at the next Congress later this month, though I hear from connected CHP supporters here that a comeback in so short a time frame is unlikely.
— Ben Katcher