Turkey’s HDP ‘may support’ Kilicdaroglu in presidential polls

Pro-Kurdish party leader Sancar says HDP might back the opposition presidential candidate if they agreed on ‘fundamental principles’.

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) 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.

Social democrat Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kilicdaroglu 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.

Kilicdaroglu, 74, head of the country’s second-biggest party after Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AK Party), aims to remove the president from his seat after a two-decade reign.

The HDP, Turkey’s third-biggest party with 11.7 percent votes in the 2018 elections, is not part of the 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.

Kilicdaroglu heads the country’s second-biggest party, the CHP [Alp Eren Kaya/Republican People’s Party/Handout via Reuters]

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 unseat Erdogan and win a majority in parliament against his AK Party and its ultranationalist ally, the Nationalist Actions Party (MHP).

For years, 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.

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