Ecevit seeks to move DSP party line to the right

Rahşan Ecevit, one of the founders of the Democratic Left Party (DSP) and widow of the late Bülent Ecevit, a former prime minister and longtime DSP leader, would like to see her party shifting further toward the right, sources close to her say.

Rahşan Ecevit last week sought the resignation of current DSP leader Zeki Sezer, handpicked by Bülent Ecevit in the summer of 2004, which was also when he was brought to party leadership at a congress. Rahşan Ecevit, who believes Sezer and his team have failed to reach out to the people, favors a more right-wing leader, sources say.

When the content of their meeting was leaked to the press last week, Sezer made a statement on June 28 admitting that he and Rahşan Ecevit did indeed have differences in opinion. “This is natural, but we will continue to do our work. My resignation is out of the question. We are continuing to work with determination. Discussions are natural, and a party congress is the place to resolve those discussions,” Sezer said.
Analysts say this can be interpreted as Sezer leaning toward holding an extraordinary party congress to settle accounts with Rahşan Ecevit. Sezer, who has been assigning people closer to him to replace Rahşan Ecevit’s people in the past four years across party branches, knows that a rival supported by Rahşan Ecevit stands little, if any, chance of winning party leadership in a party congress.
Although various statements by Sezer express confidence that the DSP will steal the show in local elections to be held March 29, 2009, observers say this is unlikely. The DSP currently has two metropolitan municipalities -- Ordu and Eskişehir -- and 14 district municipalities. Analysts say that the only certain municipality the DSP can retain is the municipality of Eskişehir.
Rahşan Ecevit’s plans
The thing that has most concerned Rahşan Ecevit, according to sources close to her, about Sezer’s leadership is her belief that the DSP should no longer be a party of the left, but one of the right. Rahşan Ecevit believes the DSP’s policy line is closer to that of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). The DSP was able to put 12 deputies into Parliament through an election alliance with the CHP last summer. Rahşan Ecevit believes that Turks as a people do not like to vote for left-wing parties, and hopes to replace Sezer with a right-wing DSP member. But does such a person exist? According to party sources, DSP deputies Emrehan Halıcı and Mücahit Pehlivanlı could be candidates for the job. Both names are known for views closer to a conservative, right-wing, outlook.