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Turkey’s opposition bloc nominates CHP chairman as its joint presidential candidate

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A bloc of six Turkish opposition parties has nominated Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, 74, leader of the country’s main opposition party, as its joint presidential candidate after a last-minute political crisis was resolved.

The candidacy of Republican People’s Party (CHP) chair Kılıçdaroğlu was announced by Temel Karamollaoğlu, leader of the Felicity Party (SP), who hosted the leaders of the parties in the bloc at SP headquarters in Ankara on Monday evening.

Kılıçdaroğlu, a former bureaucrat who has been serving as the CHP chairman since 2010, will run against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the presidential elections scheduled for May 14. Erdoğan, who was first elected president in 2014, is seeking re-election.

A large crowd of people gathered in front of SP headquarters chanting slogans in favor of Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy and declaring support for the opposition alliance.

The leaders of the six parties including İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener appeared before the crowd together as Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy was being announced.

Akşener left the group on Friday in protest of an agreement of five parties in the bloc to nominate Kılıçdaroğlu as their presidential candidate instead of moving forward with her proposal to nominate either İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu or Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş, both CHP members.

She decided to return to the bloc after meeting with İmamoğlu and Yavaş on Monday morning, suggesting instead that the two mayors serve as vice presidents if Kılıçdaroğlu is elected.

Akşener sparked the political crisis by insisting on the candidacy of either of the mayors because they are more popular among voters and also because, based on opinion survey results, they have a greater chance of winning against Erdoğan.

İmamoğlu and Yavaş ended the years-long rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in their cities in the local elections of 2019. Some opinion surveys show that they enjoy more public support than Erdoğan and are more likely to get elected if nominated for the presidency than Kılıçdaroğlu.

İmamoğlu and Yavaş turned down Akşener’s proposal on Friday to announce their candidacy, saying they support their leader Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy.

The CHP leader has been one of the fiercest critics of the government of Erdoğan, whom he accused of widespread corruption and turning the country into a one-man regime.

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