‘We did not honor Kılıçdaroğlu, but sent him injured’

CHP Elazığ Deputy Gürsel Erol, who stood next to Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu at the 38th Ordinary Congress of the CHP and drew attention by reacting to the changemakers by calling them “Opportunists”, spoke to SÖZCÜ. Erol said, “Unfortunately, we did not honor our Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, but sent him injured.”



'We did not honor Kılıçdaroğlu, but sent him injured'

Özgür Özel won against Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu at the CHP 38th Ordinary Congress held last weekend.

CHP Elazığ Deputy Gürsel Erol, who came to the fore in his statements before the congress, called for the new administration.

Reminding that the MPs who are not on the key list entered the PM by entering the list, Erol demanded that objective ignments be made in the parliamentary group in order to ensure a harmonious working environment.

Erol, who is known for his support for Kılıçdaroğlu and attracted attention with his reaction to the changemakers by calling them “Opportunists”, also reproached Kılıçdaroğlu’s way of leaving.

Erol said, “In the history of CHP, the chairman’s resignation from the chairmanship was done by honoring themselves with courtesy, political responsibility and loyalty. But unfortunately, the 38th Ordinary Congress process did not happen like this. “Unfortunately, we did not honor our Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, but sent him injured,” he said.

Özgür Özel, who received 812 votes in the second round of the 38th Ordinary Congress of the Republican People’s Party, was elected as the Chairman.


Here are the questions we asked Erol and his answers:

After a long time, there was a change of chairman in CHP. The delegates chose Özgür Özel instead of Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who has been serving as the Chairman for 13 years. How do you evaluate this decision?

I publicly shared our friends’ political stances, discourses and concerns about the future regarding the pre-congress process. As people who know the culture and history of the party, we are aware of our responsibility.

In Turkey, no party other than the Republican People’s Party can achieve change through democratic means as a result of a competitive congress at the chairmanship level. Republican People’s Party congresses are areas where even the most contradictory views are freely expressed and discussed in a pluralistic manner.

The congress is over and it has made its decision. In accordance with the principle of democratic centralism, it is our fundamental duty to respect the will of the congress and to fight for that will to be a hope for the society.

The will of the congress is above everything for us. Our duty is to work for the unity and solidarity of our party and contribute to the success of our Chairman Özgür Özel and therefore to our party.

CHP Elazığ Deputy Gürsel Erol took on the task of organizing the congress.


Many years after the İsmet İnönü-Bülent Ecevit race at the congresses of the Republican People’s Party, a chairman lost the congress. What would you like to say about this result?

The outcome of the İsmet İnönü – Bülent Ecevit congress is not the same as the process of our 38th ordinary general embly. Bülent Ecevit, 1 year before the date of the congress, resigned as general secretary in reaction to the CHP’s appointment of a minister to the Nihat Erim government, and became a candidate with a new ideological difference and discourse.

Additionally, İsmet İnönü did not run as a candidate against Bülent Ecevit. When İsmet İnönü’s Party embly list lost the election, İnönü did not become a candidate. In the history of the CHP, the chairman’s resignation from the chairmanship was done by honoring themselves with courtesy, political responsibility and loyalty.

But unfortunately, the 38th Ordinary Congress process did not happen like this. Unfortunately, we did not honor our Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, but sent him injured.


Before the congress, you made very harsh statements about the changemakers, and your comment about the changemakers as “opportunists” drew a lot of reactions. Do you still think the same?

The expression used there is not an expression used towards our party members who want change. It was used for a handful of people who tried to guarantee that they would not change by hiding behind the word “change”.

I don’t think it’s right to continue this discussion. As I just said, what needed to be talked about during the congress was discussed, what needed to be said was said. Now is the time to fight for our party to be successful in local elections. If we have new words to say, we will express them at our next congress.


You were responsible for the organization and control of the congress. In previous congresses where chairs were flying in the air, this time no ugly images emerged, even though the tension was high. What measures did you take to prevent this?

We experienced a congress with the highest participation in the history of CHP, the most ertive and the parties were very sharpened. The number of participants was 50 thousand and the capacity of the hall was 10 thousand. It is not possible to control, direct and fully dominate the mes in a closed area.

I did not allow the internal security of the hall to be provided by the police. Since the police personnel did not know our party members, even small disturbances could have gone to very different places. The police department took responsibility for all external transportation and security of the hall. I took full responsibility for security inside the hall.

I ensured the security of the foyer areas of the hall with the security companies of our headquarters, and the entire internal security of the hall with the party members. We had a peaceful congress, with officials from the supporters of both of our candidates.

Of course, during this period, I slept 4 hours a day and spent the last 48 hours without any sleep. Because it was a very risky congress in terms of security.


In the television programs you attended until the congress day, you said that there was an expectation of change in society and that you would work for Ekrem İmamoğlu if he was a candidate. Do you agree again?

These statements and evaluations of ours are now invalid. Our chairman, Mr. Özgür Özel, and our Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality president, Mr. Ekrem İmamoğlu, claimed to be the hope of our party and received the approval of our congress.

Our duty is to support them after this process. In addition, our esteemed chairman Özgür Özel gave me the authority at the congress. I do not think that I can determine the Central Executive Board and the parliamentary group in the party as I wish, but I think that the unity and solidarity of the party should be reflected in every organ.

For example, some of the friends who entered by breaking the PM list should be admitted to MYK. There is resentment in our parliamentary group due to the behavior of some of our friends. In order to provide a harmonious working environment that will eliminate these resentments, objective ignments should be made in our parliamentary group.

We are going to the local elections with a new administration, we cannot act with a narrow staff approach that will disappoint the existing hopes and expectations. We don’t even have a party member to leave behind. We will see the local election as a mobilization and need everyone’s contribution.


İmam Bakır Üküş, who shouted “you cannot withdraw” at Kılıçdaroğlu’s decision to withdraw after the election went to the second round at the congress and was claimed to be his advisor, claimed in a statement that you had betrayed Kılıçdaroğlu. What is this person’s duty? Is there any equivalent in the party?

In fact, this process is not explained to the public incompletely. Before the second round started, the mayor friends and I agreed that the chairman should withdraw and Engin Özkoç called the chairman to convey our opinion to Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu.

When I couldn’t reach our chairman of the council, Mr. Ekrem İmamoğlu, on the phone, I started calling him in the hall. To tell the election board not to start voting until the chairman arrives. I wanted to reach Mr. Ekrem İmamoğlu.

After a while, Mr. Ekrem İmamoğlu came to the room where we gathered with the mayors. We conveyed this decision to him, but while Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu was coming to the hall to retire, the voting started and there was a post on social media describing the development of the process differently.

Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu was very upset about the post, and when he came to the hall, 70 percent of the delegates had already cast their votes. I was not present in the environment where the images reflected in the press were shot, and there was no time left to make the withdrawal meaningful, 70 percent of the delegates had already cast their votes.

If I were in the meeting room, those names discussed publicly would not be in that room. The last time I entered the room, the chairman was leaving. The person called İmambakır Üküş was walking shouting, I raised my voice and told him not to tense the situation by intervening. That’s what it’s all about.


We know that you have a serious response from the delegates. Have you received an offer from Mr. Oğuz Kaan or the new chairman for the list? Why didn’t you become a candidate even though you knew you would make the list if you entered personally?

I do not find it ethically right to explain the offers I receive. We became the names mentioned with Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu during the congress process. From time to time, I have reacted harshly and made statements against an elected leader.

My candidacy for PM could be considered an opposition move. This would not be right towards our newly elected chairman. I would have no problem either with my candidacy or with not being elected.

In the previous congress, I received 824 votes even though I was not on any list. If I were a candidate, I could still get the highest votes. But the outcome in politics is not your withdrawal, but your political stance where you are. The important thing in politics is not to say everything is permissible and to be elected, but to stand tall without compromising one’s principles, and life is not just about politics.

You should not feel regret and shame when you look at your opponent’s face about the political stance you will take. It means leaving a mark on the outcome of politics not only based on getting elected but also with your stance.


Would you take responsibility and intervene if the policies to be followed by the current administration that won the congress cannot bring about the desired change in society?

As a family, our connection with CHP goes back 100 years. We are loyal to our republic and the state, and responsibly to our party. Regardless of our title or title in the party, no one is above the corporate identity of the Republican People’s Party. The party did not exist with us, and will not disappear after us.

Names are of no importance, people come and go, our party is permanent. The Republican People’s Party, a 100-year-old party, is a leading party of the future.

This is exactly the meaning of social democracy. Our priority is the future of our party. We are wherever we need to be, and we demonstrate every attitude we believe is right for our party, using democratic methods.


After the change in your party, there are evaluations that the public’s despair towards the CHP has changed to some extent. Do you think change will bring hope to society?

Time will tell, naturally every change creates new hope. Now, Mr. Chairman and staff have changed. This created an expectation to create a new hope and excitement in society.

With our new discourses, new political language, new staff, ideological differences and solution-oriented policies, we can only make people say “this is it” for hope. This is a process that will take time. Each of our party members will contribute to this process.

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