After being runner-up in the 2018 elections as the main opposition candidate, Turkish politician Muharrem Ince this time will run for the presidency with his new brand the Memleket Party.

Before Muharrem Ince founded his own political party, the Turkish politician had a long history of representing the country’s main opposition party, the Republican People's Party (CHP), most notably as a presidential candidate in the 2018 general elections.

In his stint as presidential candidate, Ince received just over 30 percent of the votes and therefore placed second behind Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who received 53 percent.

But his rise to the top of the CHP chain, and later his departure from the party, all began at the local level in his hometown province of Yalova, where he was born in the village of Elmalik on May 4, 1964.

In Yalova, Ince took on various positions in non-governmental organisations before deciding at 38-years-old that he wanted to enter parliament. He joined CHP in the early 1990s as a member of parliament (MP) for Yalova and served four terms.

Also on the local level, he served as Yalova’s provincial president of the Ataturkist Thought Association (ADD), a secular organisation that supports the ideas of the founder of Türkiye, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and was even the Head of Press for local football club Yalovaspor. 

Campaign for presidency, cracks within CHP

Before the 58-year-old took an interest in politics, his true passion was teaching. 

He graduated from then-Uludag University (now Balikesir University), where he pursued his degree at the Necatibey Faculty of Education. He later worked as a physics teacher and a school principal in various high schools and private teaching institutions.

Ince ran for CHP group leadership and was elected deputy chairman under chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu, a position he served between June 2010 and August 2014. 

Ince, who is married to his wife Ulku and has a son named Salih Arda, was re-elected to the position in 2011 and 2013. He resigned in August 2014 and was replaced by Levent Gok.

During local elections in 2014, Ince also played a strong role in supporting Vefa Salman, the CHP candidate for Mayor of Yalova. He took an active role in the campaign and during the vote count in Yalova.

But the cracks in Ince’s divided relationship with the CHP began to show following the party's loss in the 2014 presidential election. 

Ince began harshly criticising the party’s current leader Kilicdaroglu after joint presidential candidate for the CHP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, lost to Erdogan. Ince soon after declared his candidacy for party chairmanship.

In a press conference on August 14, Ince said that he would no longer allow the CHP to lose credit in the eyes of the Turkish public and claimed the party is run by a small oligarchic elite.

He ran for party leadership but lost in the 2014 congress with only 415 delegate votes against Kilicdaroglu’s 740. The following election cycle, Ince ran for CHP chairman again.

During the 36th CHP Convention in February 2018, Ince this time received 447 votes from party delegates while Kilicdaroglu won 790 votes and was declared party leader once again.

But Ince was selected to be the party’s presidential candidate in the presidential elections of that year. Kilicdaroglu declared the CHP's support for Ince, and his candidacy was announced shortly after.

Ince's 2018 campaign kicked off with an election rally in Yalova under the slogan “Türkiye’ye güvence Muharrem Ince”, which roughly translates to "Muharrem Ince, an assurance to Türkiye". But in the end, Erdogan beat Ince. The incumbent leader won 52.6 percent of the votes while Ince received 30.64 percent of the votes.

After the 37th CHP Convention, Ince announced he will be founding a new political party called the Memleket Party in September 2020. 

He announced his resignation from the CHP in January 2021 and formally resigned a month later.

Source: TRT World