Pro-Kurdish HDP keeps options open ahead of elections

Pro-Kurdish HDP keeps options open ahead of elections
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Turkey’s HDP said it is open to negotiate a joint presidential candidate with other opposition parties

Turkey’s second largest opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said it is open to negotiations with other opposition parties on finding a joint candidate to run against president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in next year’s elections. 

However, it will propose its own presidential candidate if such talks fail with a separate opposition alliance, HDP’s senior deputy Saruhan Oluc told Reuters on Thursday.

Turkey is facing parliamentary and presidential elections by June next year. Erdogan, who’s approval ratings has been in decline due to the economic woes in the country, has formally announced his presidential candidacy for re-election in June and has the support of MHP. Six opposition parties including the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) are working on putting forward a joint name to run against Erdogan at the elections, but yet to declare a candidate. HDP is not among that opposition bloc. 

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of CHP who reiterates his willingness to run as a candidate should the table of six parties agree on his name, said it would be more appropriate to put forward a joint candidate for the presidential elections, referring to the pro-Kurdish party, in an interview with Birgun newspapaer on June 30.

The identity of the presidential candidate was less important than the opposition agreeing on policy, HDP deputy Oluc said. 

That means “building a strong local and national democracy, ensuring an impartial and independent judiciary, the rule of law and finding a democratic solution to the Kurdish problem,” Oluc said, according to Reuters.

HDP played an important role at 2018 elections, winning 67 seats in parliament of 600 seats with 11.6 percent of the votes. Despite forecasts to the contrary, HDP’s overcoming the nationwide ten percent electoral threshold to enter parliament, helped depriving Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) of its parliamentary majority. If pro-Kurdish party’s votes were to remain under the threshold, its votes would be distributed proportionally among other parties that succeeded to enter the parliament and AKP would take the biggest share from this re-distribution, due to the electoral system in Turkey. If HDP were to fail to overcome nationwide ten percent threshold that is now lowered to seven percent, around 60 seats out of its 67 seats would be allocated to Erdogan’s AKP, paving the way for it to get the absolute majority of the seats, ruling the country on its own. In 2018, AKP won 290 seats and formed a governing alliance with far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).