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Turkey’s opposition bloc convenes to choose their presidential candidate

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Six leaders from a bloc of opposition parties in Turkey convened on Thursday to finally determine their presidential candidate only two-and-a-half months before the scheduled election date, BBC Turkish service reported.

The leaders of the six opposition parties, which consists of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the nationalist İYİ (Good) Party, the Felicity Party (SP), the Future Party (GP), the Democrat Party (DP) and the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), attended a meeting hosted by SP leader Temel Karamollaoğlu at his party’s headquarters in Ankara.

Even if the leaders agree on a presidential candidate at their meeting on Thursday, that person’s name won’t be immediately announced.

Although CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is the most likely candidate from the opposition, İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu and Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş, both from the CHP, are among the potential choices.

İmamoğlu, however, faces a political ban due to a prison sentence he was given last year on charges of insulting a public official, while Yavaş, a former nationalist, is disliked by Kurds, who are expected to play a significant role in determining the winner of the election.

Those two mayors ended the years-long Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule in their cities in the 2019 local elections, and opinion surveys show them enjoying significant support among voters as possible presidential candidates.

Normally, the opposition bloc, which has been criticized for being too late to announce their candidate, would have revealed the name of the contender on Feb. 13, but they had to postpone it due to two powerful earthquakes that hit the country’s south on Feb. 6, killing more than 45,000 people.

Before the earthquakes, May 14 had been set as the date for the presidential and parliamentary elections, but there is now a possibility that elections will be held on their initially scheduled date in June.

The AKP and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, however, have ruled out the prospect of postponing the elections, although some figures close to the party called for their postponement for a year due to post-earthquake recovery efforts.

President Erdoğan, who is facing the toughest election in his career due to what many say is his government’s poor handling of the disaster accompanied by the country’s struggling economy, has already announced that he will run for the top state post as the joint candidate of the Public Alliance, consisting of his AKP, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the nationalist Grand Unity Party (BBP).

The opposition bloc, known as the Nation Alliance, is promising to revert to a parliamentary system from the current presidential system of governance if they come to power.

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