Leader of the opposition Homeland Party Muharrem İnce hinted following a meeting with main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, one of two main contenders in Turkey’s upcoming presidential election, that he remains determined to run in the race, BBC Turkish service reported on Wednesday.
In a move that is feared to divide votes among Turkey’s opposition, İnce, a former presidential candidate for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), announced earlier this month that he would run in the May 14 presidential election. The politician qualified to run in the race by collecting 111,301 signatures, the Supreme Board of Elections (YSK) announced last week.
A person who is over the age of 40, has a university degree and meets the criteria to be elected a member of parliament can be nominated as a presidential candidate, either by 100,000 voters who sign petitions supporting their candidacy or by the nomination of a political party that has a parliamentary group or received at least 5 percent of the nationwide vote in the last elections.
İnce will be running as a presidential candidate in the election in addition to current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the joint candidate of an opposition bloc of six parties.
Many say if İnce stands as a candidate in the presidential election, his candidacy could weaken Kılıçdaroğlu’s chances of winning since his likely voters will be from among people supporting Kılıçdaroğlu, not Erdoğan.
According to a report by BBC Turkish service on Wednesday, İnce hinted that he hadn’t changed his mind about running in the election following a one-hour meeting with Kılıçdaroğlu at party headquarters in the capital Ankara.
İnce had previously said Kılıçdaroğlu was his “big brother” and “[former] party leader” and that he could meet with him, adding, however, that he would “not negotiate his candidacy.” Despite these statements, the Turkish public was wondering what İnce would say after Kılıçdaroğlu’s visit and if he would withdraw from the race.
Both İnce and Kılıçdaroğlu made a statement to the press following the meeting.
When asked whether he was going to withdraw from the race, İnce said, “No, I never said such a thing.”
“There should be alliances in politics. However, [they] shouldn’t be .. of interests [but] … of principles,” İnce added, referring to the opposition bloc of six parties, known as the Nation Alliance.
During a program on TV100 the MP leader also said Kılıçdaroğlu didn’t ask him for support in the presidential election during his visit and that they both wanted the same thing – unseating Erdoğan – but were using different strategies to achieve it.
On the question of whether an agreement was reached between the two figures on electoral cooperation, BBC quoted sources from the CHP as saying that Kılıçdaroğlu’s visit to Homeland headquarters was just a “courtesy call.”
Two opposition leaders likely to reach agreement: columnist
Meanwhile, journalist Erdoğan Aktaş said in his Thursday opinion piece on the TV100 news website that İnce would probably reach an agreement with the CHP leader within the day.
According to Aktaş, in order to come to an agreement with Kılıçdaroğlu, İnce insists his party be given two ministries and that the CHP include five names from the Homeland Party on its candidate list for the parliamentary elections, while the CHP will offer to give Homeland one ministry and three spots on its candidate list.
İnce was nominated as the CHP candidate in the June 2018 election against current president Erdoğan.
He received 30.6 percent of the nationwide vote against Erdoğan, who garnered 52.5 percent and won.
İnce parted ways with the CHP in February 2021 and established his own party in May 2021.
He said at a recent news conference that he believes he can get 38 percent of the vote in the first round and 68 percent in a second-round runoff.