Kilicdaroglu postpones crucial visit to HDP

Kilicdaroglu postpones crucial visit to HDP
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The visit of the six-party opposition bloc's presidential candidate was postponed "due to his tight schedule," HDP officials have said.

A visit by the presidential candidate of a six-party opposition bloc to the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) was postponed "due to his tight schedule," a press communication by HDP said late Thursday.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, presidential candidate of the Nation Alliance and the leader of main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), was expected to meet with HDP officials on Saturday.

A new date for the meeting is yet to be set.

Polls in Turkey suggest that neither the sitting president Recep Tayyip Erdogan nor Kilicdaroglu are likely to receive over 50% of the votes in the first round of the elections, and Kilicdaroglu needs the backing of HDP in order to avoid a runoff.

While HDP is seen as the kingmaker with a voter base of six million (around 11% to 13% of the popular vote in the last three parliamentary elections), it is constantly criminalized by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), its far right ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and government media, who spuriously claim that the party is steered by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), designated a "terrorist group" by Ankara.

Similar accusations against HDP are voiced by the nationalist Good Party, part of the Nation Alliance, although its officials have recently made clear that they will not object to Kilicdaroglu having a dialogue with HDP officials.

HDP is at a critical juncture as it is facing a closure case in the Constitutional Court, which rejected an application for the postponement of its decision till after the elections, and may issue a ban both on the party and on hundreds of its senior officials days to the elections.

Former HDP co-chairs Figen Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas have been incarcerated since November 2016, thousands of party members and officials have been arrested in the past seven years, and almost all elected mayors of HDP have been removed and replaced by government appointed trustees.

While HDP officials are now engaged in efforts to have open talks with Kilicdaroglu, particularly regarding a return to a peaceful and democratic policy for the resolution of the Kurdish question, they are under pressure by their own allies to declare their support for Kilicdaroglu at once.

The Workers' Party of Turkey (TIP), one of the parties alongside HDP in a left bloc of six parties, already declared that it is set to support Kilicdaroglu in the elections on 14 May.