Turkey’s main opposition leader, the joint presidential candidate of an opposition bloc of six parties, will meet with officials from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on March 18 to seek their support for his presidential bid, the Birgün daily reported.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu will meet with HDP co-Chairpersons Pervin Buldan and Mithat Sancar at HDP headquarters in Ankara.
Kılıçdaroğlu was earlier this month declared the presidential candidate of an opposition alliance after months-long discussions and a last-minute political crisis, which was resolved.
The opposition bloc, known as the Nation Alliance, does not include the HDP due to the presence of the nationalist İYİ (Good) Party in the group, which dislikes the HDP and sees it as linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community. The HDP is the second largest opposition party in parliament after the CHP.
Following Kılıçdaroğlu’s nomination, there was discussion as to whether he would seek the support of the HDP, which is widely seen as the kingmaker in the presidential election on May 14 that could end the two-decade rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is seeking re-election.
“I will certainly visit the HDP. As a candidate to become president of Turkey and its 85 million people, democracy demands that I visit all the parties. What could possibly be wrong with my visiting the HDP?” Kılıçdaroğlu said in an interview with Halk TV last week.
The HDP currently faces a closure case filed against it in March 2021 due to its alleged links to the outlawed PKK.
President Erdoğan and his election ally, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, also accuse the party of links to the PKK.
“There can be nothing more normal than my visiting the HDP,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Many say Kılıçdaroğlu needs to maintain a fine balance in his dialogue with the HDP in order to avoid undermining support among nationalist voters hostile to its pro-Kurdish politics.
İYİ Party leader Meral Akşener earlier said in a statement that she has no objections to Kılıçdaroğlu’s dialogue with the HDP but that the HDP can’t be part of the Nation Alliance and that no ministries can be given to the party in return for its support for Kılıçdaroğlu.
HDP Co-chairperson Sancar, who said following Kılıçdaroğlu’s nomination that his party is expecting a visit from him, said last Thursday that his party’s dialogue will be with the presidential candidate of the opposition alliance.
“It will not be a HDP-CHP dialogue,” said Sancar in remarks likely to upset Akşener.