Policy on Kurdish mayors may complicate talks between candidate and possible supporter

Policy on Kurdish mayors may complicate talks between candidate and possible supporter
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Victory Party leader Ozdag has made clear ahead of a meeting with Kilicdaroglu that his demands include a reversal in the opposition's pledge to end the policy of removing elected Kurdish mayors.

The leader of ultra-nationalist Victory Party, who is now engaged in negotiations with the opposition's candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu for a possible support in the presidential election runoff on 28 May, said that he is yet to have another meeting with Kilicdaroglu before he announces his party's stance.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday outside the headquarters of the Victory Party, Umit Ozdag made it clear that his opinions about the current administration's policy of removing elected Kurdish mayors and appointing state officials, or "trustees," in their place is different from that of Kilicdaroglu and the bloc of parties that is endorsing him.

It is stated in the bloc's joint declaration of policies:

"We will end the practice of appointing trustees, which is in disregard of the right to elect and be elected in the context of local governments."

Ozdag told the press conference:

"We believe that for Turkey's security and as part of combating terrorism, the Turkish state should always have the option, within the confines of law, to appoint state officials as trustees in the place of mayors who are linked to terrorism."

He added:

"I can tell Turkish people that the fight against terrorism and Turkey's security is in safe hands where the Victory Party is involved."

Apparently referring to the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) who earlier declared support for Kilicdaroglu, Ozdag further stressed:

"We believe that no political organization with links to terrorism has political legitimacy even if it has legal legitimacy"

Ozdag also stated that all refugees in Turkey should be deported, if necessary by force, in the course of one year.

Kilicdaroglu now looks like he is torn between efforts to appeal more to anti-Kurdish and anti-migrant sentiments, which is not limited to the far right in Turkey, and retaining Kurdish votes.

Kurdish-majority provinces delivered Kilicdaroglu record levels of support in the first round of the presidential race on 14 May, as he received 80.3% in Dersim, 75.9% in Sirnak, 72.3% in Hakkari, 72% in Diyarbakir, 67.6% in Batman, 66.1% in Mardin, 65.8% in Agri, all over the 63.3% he received in the western province of Izmir that is by a significant margin the highest among non Kurdish-majority provinces.