Dec 05 2018

Pro-Kurdish party says supporting joint candidate in local elections possible

The co-leader of Turkey’s left-wing pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) party has left the door open to supporting candidates put forth by the country’s two other opposition parties in local elections next year. 

Speaking to Turkish news site Artı Gerçek, HDP co-leader Pervin Buldan said that the party would be seeking to end the rule of appointed mayor’s in the country’s east, while hoping to dislodge the power of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its nationalist ally in western cities.

“We will look at the candidate’ profiles” when considering supporting candidates from the main opposition and the conservative party, Buldan said. 

The two parties, the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the conservative Good Party (IYI), are in talks to raise a joint candidate for the mayorship of Istanbul and Ankara. 

Good Party is made up of nationalists who broke away in 2016 from the MHP after its support for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Buldan said the HDP is studying the “feasibility” of raising candidates in the races for Turkey’s top three cities, Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir. 

“In Turkey’s west, especially in large cities, we can of course raise joint candidates to ensure the retreat of the AKP,” she said, without naming other opposition parties throughout the interview. “Everyone is ready for any kind of self-sacrifice in order to make the AKP and MHP retreat.” 

As part of its crackdown on what it calls terrorism in Turkey’s southeast, the government has removed more than 80 of the 103 elected mayors from the HDP, putting in their place state-appointed administrators, according to Human Rights Watch. The HDP hopes to win back those seats.

Buldan said that Erdoğan is continuing to jail former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş in order to keep him out of the field for the country’s local elections.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) last month ruled that Turkey should end the pre-trial detention of Demirtaş, who has been behind bars for more than two years on charges related to terrorism.

“The reason Erdoğan is holding Demirtaş in jail today, despite the ECHR’s ruling to set him free, is of course the local elections,” she said.