Turkey: Will the CHP Ever Wake Up?


The CHP (Republican People’s Party) represents more than a mere political party. It embodies the founding will of the Turkish Republic and the political legacy of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. As the world changes in an astounding fashion, the party that once led Turkey into modernism is now faced with becoming an obsolete organization insofar as it refuses to evolve.

During the 1970’s, the CHP espoused a left-wing discourse with the incentives of Ismet Inönü, the second man after Atatürk, and Bülent Ecevit, who was to be elected prime minister in upcoming years. This radical shift of policy among the CHP marked the beginning of its erosion. Instead of combining nationalism and socialism, therefore creating a strong alternative in accordance with Turkish sociological parameters, the CHP opted for social democracy, a decadent ideology of the past.

It is no secret that the Turkish people enjoy populist and nationalist currents. History shows us that accession to power in Turkey is strictly tied to nationalist rhetoric and strong leadership. The CHP, on the other hand, insists on adopting moderate, passive, and flat stances on burning issues that concern Turkish citizens.

The actual leadership of the CHP is weak, incapable and unqualified in respect to threats against which Turkey is struggling. When President Erdoğan chose to embrace Sunni-orientated policies, CHP’s only political response was to rely more and more on Alawites, Kurds, and liberals. It is perfectly natural for the CHP, as the founding will of the Republic, to create a somewhat national union within Turkey, thus encompassing all segments of Turkish society. Nevertheless, while trying to establish a new electorate for itself, the CHP gradually moved away from its core principles and its political mission. For example, in order to reach the Kurds, the CHP came to collaborate with the terrorist PKK. Concerning the Alawites, the CHP gave political voice to the DHKP-C terrorist organization.

Finally, to gain liberals’ support, the CHP developed close relations with the terrorist Gülenists. Mustafa Kemal would turn in his grave if he knew what happened to his party.

The modern CHP is paying the price for Inönü’s leftist roaming displayed after WWII. Inönü did not comprehend the fact that the mission of the CHP was way too important and way too superior to fit into the degenerate political ideology that is social democracy. The founder of the nationalist MHP, Alparslan Türkeş, once said, “if the CHP remained on the path drawn by Atatürk, there would be no need for the MHP.” Crypto-communists used the CHP for years to impose their own agenda upon party cadres. They managed to partly achieve their goals with Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s rise to the party’s leadership. Instead of struggling to take the party back, many hardline Kemalists opted for resignation and formed different new parties, without any success. Now they should find a way to get back in and “normalize” the CHP once again from within.

Since the Treaty of Sevres signed in 1918, Turkey’s existence has never been more threatened than today. The country needs the CHP. Turkey needs neither a leftist nor a rightist CHP. What Turkey needs is a “national” CHP restoring its factory settings.

The CHP must once again have a convincing nationalist discourse encompassing all ethnic and religious groups and substantially planned economic policies rejecting financial capitalism’s diktats on Turkey.

As long as the CHP doesn’t cut its ties with NATO, the US and the EU, it will remain a political dinosaur and fossilize in time. The Turkish Republic cannot reshape itself without the CHP. But before transforming Turkey into a nation-state as it was in 1923, the CHP should shake things up and re-conquer its old ideology, the Six Arrows, while modernizing it in light of present-day popular demands.

This a solemn call to arms for the real owners of the CHP, a call for mobilization: It’s time to wake up so that tomorrow will be better.