deology dividing the socialist party .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ISTANBUL - Contrary to some media reports that the ongoing case on the alleged Ergenekon gang divided Parliament’s only socialist party, the newly elected head of the party has rejected claims that the case is the cause for disagreement within the party.

The dispute within the socialist Freedom and Solidarity Party, or ÖDP, seems older and based on ideological and political differences rather than on divergence about the Ergenekon case, which is an investigation into alleged gang thought to be aiming to topple the government.

"We have had different comments on the Ergenekon case, but the divergence started before the case. It is not true to say that it is because Ergenekon," said Alper Taş, the newly elected leader of the party, after ÖDP deputy Ufuk Uras resigned from the party June 17. At the end of January, Uras had lost the run for party leadership to Hayri Kozanoğlu in an extraordinary party congress. Currently Uras is an independent deputy and is continuing his efforts to found a new party.

The social and political conditions in which the ÖDP was first founded in 1996 has changed, causing a need for a change, Taş said. "The period in which we founded the party was a period when socialism was being questioned and the socialist movement was withdrawing. So the party defined itself around a more flexible structure, comprising wide segments of the left. However, the conjuncture has changed since 2000," Taş said. They needed to determine party’s policies from a more leftist perspective, in a period that imperialism and capitalism is being debated, he said.

Uras on the other hand is seeking to continue a political line similar to the foundation period of the ÖDP, Taş said, adding Uras’s group turned to the right of the former ÖDP while they turned to its left.

Alternative to AKP

Uras, on the other hand, in an interview with news Web site Bianet, said they started working to found an alternative party to the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP. "While founding the ÖDP, it was a collective decision to gather socialists, social democrats, Alevites, and those who are defending a labor-based struggle. But we could not have a political will to make this up. Then we said let’s not lose time and everyone should do what they know is true," Uras said. As for the breaking point that led him to resign from the party, Uras said, a divergence occurred on the fundamental issue, which is the joint struggle and direction of the left in the near future.