Jailed pro-Kurdish party candidate allowed to campaign on state-owned TV

Turkey's Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) has given a green light to jailed pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş to campaign on state-owned TRT television ahead of the June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections, independent news site t24 reported.

The decision follows calls for the release of presidential hopeful Demirtaş during the election campaigning period. Demirtaş was detained 19 months ago could face more than 100 years in prison on a string of terrorism related charges.

TRT has been the subject of criticism for giving disproportionate air time to certain political parties and heavily favouring the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The YSK decision allows for presidential candidates President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Muharrem İnce, right-wing nationalist Good (İYİ) Party candidate Meral Aşkener, Islamist Saadet (Felicity) Party candidate Temel Karamollaoğlu, leftist nationalist Patriotic (Vatan) Party candidate Doğu Perinçek to campaign on state-owned TRT television.

TRT will be heading to Edirne province, where Demirtaş remains in pre-trial detention, the site said.

All candidates will have two 10 minute slots for the first round of the presidential elections, with the same time frame being allotted should the election go into second round. If none of the presidential candidates reach 50 percent of the votes in the first round of the presidential elections, then the two candidates who receive the highest number of votes will go onto the second round.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is looking to retain his seat in the upcoming election which will usher in a new presidential system that was narrowly approved in last year’s referendum and is set to grant the president increased powers.