Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) says it may support main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu in this year’s presidential election after “clear, open talks”.
“Our clear expectation is a transition for a strong democracy. If we can agree on fundamental principles, we may support him in presidential elections,” party co-leader Mithat Sancar said on Monday.
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Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the social democrat Republican People’s Party (CHP), emerged on Monday as the main challenger to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of the elections, expected to take place on May 14, after a six-party alliance picked him as its candidate.
The 74-year-old aims to unseat Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics – first as prime minister and since 2014 as president – for two decades.
The HDP, Turkey’s third-biggest party in the 2018 elections, behind the CHP, is not part of the opposition alliance.
However, in 2019, its mainly Kurdish supporters helped the alliance – which it was part of then – win mayoral elections in Istanbul, Ankara and other cities.
Sancar had called on the opposition to unite on Saturday, a day after the alliance splintered over who should run for president before reaching a consensus on Monday.
Polls suggest that Kilicdaroglu’s Nation Alliance will need HDP voters’ backing to defeat Erdogan and win a majority in parliament against his Justice and Development Party (AK Party), and its ultranationalist ally, the Nationalist Actions Party.
For years, the HDP has faced an AK Party government crackdown and possible ban over alleged ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed Kurdish group, which it denies.
In January, its bank accounts were frozen by a court, cutting its financial lifeline before the upcoming election.
The PKK, designated a “terrorist group” by Ankara and its NATO allies, has fought the Turkish state in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey since 1984 in which more than 40,000 people have been killed.