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Kılıçdaroğlu’s secret deal with far-right leader draws ire of supporters

The leader of a far-right, anti-refugee party on Thursday shared the details of a secret deal made between him and presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu before a runoff election in Turkey in May, sparking widespread disappointment and criticism among the latter’s political allies and supporters.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won 52.18 percent of the vote to Kılıçdaroğlu’s 47.82 percent in the runoff on May 28 despite an economic crisis and anger over the response to February earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people.

Before the elections, Kılıçdaroğlu’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) spearheaded the electoral Nation Alliance, which also included the nationalist İYİ (Good) Party, the Felicity Party (SP), the Democracy and Progressive Party (DEVA), the Future Party (GP) and the Democrat Party (DP).

Victory Party (ZP) leader Ümit Özdağ on Thursday shared the agreement that was concluded before the second round of the election on X, previously known as Twitter.

The agreement included provisions for the Ministry of Interior and two other ministries to be allocated to the ZP, along with some deputy ministerial roles in security, justice and economy. Özdağ also claimed that decisions on appointments to these positions would be made jointly with him.

Responding to the CHP’s new leader Özgür Özel’s comments about the protocol’s adverse effects on some Kurdish voters, Özdağ criticized the CHP leadership for not learning from past mistakes and asserted that the Victory Party now represents Atatürk’s legacy and Turkish nationalism, contrasting with the policies of the CHP and Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The protocol led to controversy and criticism within the Nation Alliance. Previously denied by CHP spokesperson Faik Öztrak, the deal was later confirmed by Kılıçdaroğlu.

Özdağ said in an interview that the agreement involved a written understanding about the allocation of the Ministry of Interior and two other ministries, as well as the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) to the ZP.

The disclosure has prompted strong reactions from Kurdish activists and pro-Kurdish political figures.

Eren Keskin, a Kurdish lawyer and human rights activist, labeled the agreement as “shameful,” criticizing both parties for their similarity in approach.

Journalist İrfan Aktan specifically highlighted the protocol’s commitment to the “trusteeship practice” as a betrayal of the Kurdish voters who supported Kılıçdaroğlu.

Before the elections Kılıçdaroğlu promised to stop the practice of removing duly elected mayors from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and replacing them with government-appointed trustees.

The Turkish government has removed from office 48 co-mayors from the HDP and appointed trustees since the local elections in 2019.

Political scientist Dr. Emrah Gülsunar accused Kılıçdaroğlu of being insincere in his political alliances and pursuing political advantage rather than the interest of the public.

Earlier this month, Kılıçdaroğlu was replaced by Özel, who won an intra-party election for the chairmanship.

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