Monday, May 10, 2010

Bye Bye, Baykal

AA Photo from Hurriyet Daily News

A sex scandal has caused long-time CHP leader Deniz Baykal to resign from power. Baykal has headed the CHP since 1992 (with a brief break in 1999, after which he returned to power 15 months later), and clung to power so tightly and in such good health that it is a common joke to think of him as sort of android who will never die or weaken. However, a tape capturing a most embarrasingly human moment in which Baykal is seen having sexual relations with a fellow CHP parliamentarian seems to have brought the seemingly impenetrable leader down -- at least for the moment. The sex tape was released on Friday, and Baykal has blamed the government, saying it is no surprise that the tape has emerged in the heat of the constitutional amendment process. The CHP's party congress is scheduled for May 22-23, and Baykal, who had expected to run, has said he will not. Baykal has long been blamed as the principal reason for intra-party authoritarianism within the CHP, and his resignation opens up the possibility to change the party, the social democratic credentials have long been in doubt (see past posts).

UPDATE I (5/11) -- From Hurriyet Daily News:
CHP deputy Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is being tipped as a potential new leader in a different mold from the rest. Also known as “Ghandi Kemal,” Kılıçdaroğlu's star shined brightly during his candidacy for Istanbul mayor, where he raised the CHP's votes by five points over the previous election.

Reports said Kılıçdaroğlu's stance on the matter would become clearer in the next few days.

Other names mentioned include Samsun Deputy Haluk Koç, who has previously ran against Baykal, as well as former Social Democratic Populist Party, or SHP, leader Murat Karayalçın, who was the architect of the previous SHP and CHP unity.

Textile businessman Umut Oran, who ran against Baykal at the convention two years ago, and academic Süheyl Batum are other possible candidates.

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