A fair share?


As the Ataturk Is Bankasi shares matter nears parliament, who will blink first: CHP or AK Party?

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statements on transferring the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) shares in Türkiye İş Bankası to the treasury have provoked much debate, particularly between the AK Party and the CHP.

The CHP “abuses Gazi Mustafa Kemal Atatürk” in holding a 28 percent stake in Isbank, Erdoğan said. “They can not get any money from these shares but they have four members in the board. What do these four members do? One needs to look at this,” the president stated in September. Erdoğan went on to say a proposal on the issue could be presented to parliament. Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahceli said his party would support the move.

At Is Bankasi, 40 percent of shares belong to the Is Bankasi Pension Fund Foundation, 32 percent are publicly held shares, and the Atatürk shares make up the remaining 28 percent. Income from the shares owned by CHP in İs Bankasi is given to the Turkish Language Association (TDK) and the Turkish Historical Society (TTK), as per Atatürk’s will.

While CHP’s involvement in the banking business is contrary to the Law on Political Parties, no attempt has been made to address the matter before. Now, however, that may be changing. With the president speaking of introducing the matter in parliament, the likelihood that steps will be taken to transfer the Ataturk shares to the treasury is high.

The CHP is positioning itself to resist such a move. “It is against the constitution, law, and ethics. We will resist, surprise, and make them regret”, read a statement from CHP parliamentary group Deputy Chairman Ozgur Ozel. Strong statements against a transfer of the shares have come from all levels of the party leadership.

Tensions between the AK Party and CHP are only intensifying. “Their plan is to seize and siphon the bank. We will fight that on the basis of the law. Turkey is not a derelict state,” said CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who went on to compare president Erdoğan with Turkey’s post-coup military leader Kenan Evren. “What is the difference between you and a dictator?” said Kilicdaroglu.

Now all eyes are on the AK Party in anticipation of a move to bring the matter to parliament and ultimately the courts. Meanwhile, the rhetoric between the two parties has turned incendiary.

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