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Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party to field own presidential candidate in 2023 election

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The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) will field its own candidate in the presidential election scheduled to take place in Turkey in June, the party’s co-chairperson has announced.

HDP co-Chairperson Pervin Buldan announced over the weekend that her party would determine its own presidential candidate and announce that person’s name as soon as possible.

“The HDP will decide on its own presidential candidate and will take part in the election with that candidate,” Buldan said at a party event in the eastern province of Kars on Saturday.

The HDP, the second largest opposition party in parliament, is expected to play a crucial role in the election of the country’s next president.

An opposition bloc, consisting of six opposition parties apart from the HDP, has not yet announced their candidate, while incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has already declared that he will be the candidate of the “Public Alliance,” comprising his Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

The opposition bloc, known as the “Table of Six,” is distancing itself from the HDP due to allegations of the party’s alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community. These parties, which include the nationalist İYİ Party in addition to the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), have so far been cold to cooperating with the HDP to determine a joint presidential candidate who will end Erdoğan’s decades-long rule.

The HDP, which faces a closure case on terrorism accusations, complains about being ostracized by the opposition bloc and says if they want the party’s support, they need to sit at the table with them and acknowledge its demands.

In 2019 HDP voters helped to end the yearslong rule of Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) in İstanbul when they supported Ekrem İmamoğlu, the mayoral candidate of the CHP.

HDP voters are expected to play a pivotal role again in the presidential election in June, when parliamentary elections will also be held.

Meanwhile, former HDP co-chairperson Selahattin Demirtaş, who has been jailed on bogus terrorism charges since November 2016, has welcomed the HDP’s decision to field its own presidential candidate.

Demirtaş, who is an active user of Twitter through his lawyers, tweeted about the HDP’s decision, saying, “The HDP is a political party, not a foundation that will support a candidate who cares nothing about it.”

Meanwhile, Saruhan Oruç, HDP’s parliamentary group deputy chairman, said in remarks published by the Turkish media that his party is ready to cooperate with the opposition bloc to determine a joint candidate.

“Of course, we would like to agree on a joint candidate, but when this isn’t possible, we will field our own candidate,” said Oruç.

Demirtaş warned in article he wrote from prison last week that the opposition parties’ failure to determine a joint presidential candidate would result in a “tragedy,” meaning that it would pave way for Erdoğan’s re-election.

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