Portraits of Politicians -3: Muharrem İnce

Portraits of Politicians -3: Muharrem İnce

Muharrem İnce, the leader of the Homeland Party, has become the third presidential candidate for the May 14 elections. He followed Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the leader of the People’s Alliance and Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the Nation Alliance. İnce was a former Republican People’s Party (CHP) member and the party’s presidential candidate in the 2018 presidential elections. He founded the Homeland Party in 2021 and started working for the 2023 elections two years in advance, promising to visit every corner of Anatolia step by step.

Originally a physics teacher, Muharrem İnce has worked at various positions in the CHP since his youth, then elected as deputy in 2002 for the first time. He continued to serve as a deputy in the subsequent parliamentary terms and became known not only for his speeches in the parliament against the government, but also for opposition within the CHP. Also with the influence of social media, İnce attracted attention as a “fiery and fighter” figure who comes from among the people and knows the problems of society well.

Fiery, fighter but unreliable

Describing himself as loyal to Atatürk’s principles, İnce reached the pinnacle of his political life in 2018 when he was nominated as the CHP’s presidential candidate. However, this electoral process and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s victory also marked the beginning of his decline. At that time, İnce organized rallies attended by hundreds of thousands of people of the urban population who were fed up with Erdoğan and weary of the ongoing problems in Türkiye. Especially enlightened secularists mostly in the coastal areas began to regard İnce as a beacon of hope.

However, after losing the election he had an astonishing moral collapse and vanished on the night of the election. His millions of supporters who did not hear even a word from him that night were deeply frustrated. İnce, who up until a few hours ago had been held in high esteem and almost considered a hero, has been harshly criticized after his “disappearance”.

On the night of the election everyone was waiting for a statement from him. He sent a two-word text message to a journalist’s phone: “The man won” (referring to Erdoğan) which has become the phrase that symbolizes his collapse in 2018. Muharrem İnce then claimed that his party CHP did not support him during the electoral process and even obstructed him. After the election night İnce rapidly lost credibility: Fiery, fighter but unreliable with leaving his supporters alone.

Accusation against İnce: Man of the Palace”

Muharrem İnce, raising his dissent within the CHP and being ostracized by the power centers of the party, first initiated a formation called “Homeland Movement” within the party. İnce announced at the beginning that he would not establish a party, but soon left the CHP and founded the Homeland Party. With his new party İnce has become, in his own words, an open target of the CHP’s “elites” and “social media trolls”. He has been and still is facing many accusations, such as being covertly supported by Erdoğan, being a “man of the palace” (the “palace” refers to the presidential palace) and being “commissioned” to divide the opposition votes in the upcoming elections. İnce claims that he is the only candidate who can defeat Erdoğan and has gathered the signatures of 100,000 voters which was a prerequisite for the presidential candidacy. Now he faces a new challenge: He insisted on his candidacy despite heavy pressure from CHP voters for him to withdraw in favor of Kılıçdaroğlu.

On thin[1] ice layer

It is clear that such a move would do nothing but reinforce the feeling of unreliability about Muharrem İnce. İnce does not differ much from Kılıçdaroğlu and the Nation Alliance on issues such as the ever-increasing cost of living, the Kurdish problem, relations with the Western world and NATO. But, unlike Kılıçdaroğlu, İnce defends taking a stance in favor of Ukraine in the Russia-Ukraine war and is walking on a thin ice layer towards the elections. Common thought in Turkish public opinion is that these elections will be the “last” for the losing side. This is mostly true for Erdoğan and Kılıçdaroğlu. But the same goes for Muharrem İnce. Millions of opposition voters cannot bear to hear “The man won” once again.

[1] “İnce” means “thin” in Turkish.

Tunca Arslan

Journalist (Türkiye), served as a jury member at many national and international film festivals, became the president of the Cinema Writers Association (SIYAD) between 2010-2013, where he previously served as a member of the board for three terms. He worked as the editor for the Dogan Publishing House (2009-2014) and Kirmizi Kedi Publishing House (2014-2018). Columnist in Aydinlik Newspaper and in Kaynak Publishing House

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June 2024