Jailed Kurdish politician backs opposition candidate for Istanbul mayor

Selahattin Demirtaş, jailed former co-leader of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), on Monday expressed his support for opposition candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu in the June 23 rerun vote for Istanbul mayor.

In prison since 2016 on terrorism-related charges, Demirtaş is seen as the driving force behind the HDP decision to encourage the party's supporters to vote in favour of İmamoğlu in the initial, March 31 election, when Kurdish votes played a key role in the opposition candidate’s narrow victory.  

"We believe that Mr. İmamoğlu's appeal should be supported,” Demirtaş said on Twitter, before referring to İmamoğlu’s election slogan, “Everything will be beautiful”. “We are beautiful when we are together. Without HDP, by excluding the HDP, nothing can be beautiful enough.”

Given his mandate as mayor on April 17, İmamoğlu ended the 25-year rule of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its predecessors in Turkey’s financial powerhouse.

The Supreme Election Council nullified the March 31 Istanbul result in early May, following an AKP appeal citing electoral irregularities, and rescheduled a rerun for June 23.