An alliance of left-wing parties in Turkey including the country’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) held their first election rally in İstanbul on Sunday, BBC Turkish edition reported.
The Labor and Freedom Alliance, established in August 2022, also includes the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP), the Labor Party (EMEP), the Workers’ Movement Party (EHP), the Social Freedom Party (TÖP) and the Federation of Socialist Councils (SMF).
The alliance was established as an alternative to two existing election alliances: the Public Alliance of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and the Nation Alliance of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and five other opposition parties.
— HDP (@HDPgenelmerkezi) January 15, 2023
A huge crowd gathered for the rally in the Kartal district of İstanbul, with police taking increased security measures.
Jailed politician Selahattin Demirtaş, a former co-chairperson of the HDP, on Sunday morning called on his party’s supporters not to miss the rally in Kartal from his Twitter account managed by his lawyers.
Demirtaş, who said he will also be in the area, surprised the participants of the rally with an election song, the lyrics of which he wrote. A recording of the song, sung by Demirtaş apparently while in prison, was played from loudspeakers in the area, leading the crowd to dance the halay.
HDP co-Chairperson Pervin Buldan, who delivered a speech at the event, said the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2023, scheduled to be held in June, will be an election between democracy and fascism.
Buldan said the elections will be one in which Kurds will determine their own president.
The HDP has recently announced that it will field its own presidential candidate, raising concerns that the move could benefit current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is seeking re-election.
The opposition bloc, known as the “National Alliance” or 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 have so far been cold to cooperating with the HDP to determine a joint presidential candidate who will end Erdoğan’s decades-long rule.
Leaders of the other parties of the Labor and Freedom Alliance, other than that of the İP, also delivered speeches at the rally in which they promised to end the rule of the AKP in the elections.