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Turkish political parties announce parliamentary candidates before May elections

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The parliamentary candidate lists of 26 political parties for the May 14 general election have been submitted to the Supreme Election Board (YSK), Turkey’s top election authority, local media reported on Sunday, citing board chair Ahmet Yener.

Yener said the YSK would allow the parties to make adjustments to the lists until April 14, and that the final lists, including independent candidates, would be made public on April 19.

According to Turkish media reports, each party in President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s People’s Alliance – the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the Great Unity Party (BBP) and the New Welfare Party (YRP) – submitted their own lists, while the rival Nation Alliance, an opposition bloc of six parties, will compete in the election under the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the nationalist İYİ (Good) Party lists.

The four parties in the Nation Alliance that nominated over 40 candidates under the CHP and will not be displayed on the ballot are the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), the Future Party (GP), the Democrat Party (DP) and the Felicity Party (SP).

The candidate list of the AKP, which has 285 seats in parliament, did not include 181 of the current deputies. Due to the party’s three-term rule, top executives such as Binali Yıldırım, Mehmet Özhaseki, Nurettin Canikli, Ali İhsan Yavuz and Bülent Turan were not nominated.

The party also nominated all ministers, except Health Minister Fahrettin Koca and Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, who were not included at their own request. Erdoğan is expected to radically change the cabinet should he assume power once again.

The AKP’s list also included journalists Hulki Cevizoğlu, Şebnem Bursalı and Halime Kökçe in addition to the MHP’s founder Alpaslan Türkeş’s son Tuğrul Türkeş, former Parliament Speaker Bülent Arınç’s son Mücahit Arınç, former Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek’s son Osman Gökçek and former CHP MP Mehmet Ali Çelebi.

The party also fielded four candidates from the radical Islamist Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR) – the political arm of Kurdish Hizbullah – including its chair Zekeriya Yapıcıoğlu, while giving three spots on the list to three members of the Democratic Left Party (DSP), including its chair Önder Aksakal.

The AKP did not nominate Hatay Governor Rahmi Doğan, who recently resigned from office to run in the elections. Doğan was widely criticized for his failure to effectively manage rescue and relief efforts following major earthquakes in the country’s southeast on Feb. 6.

Turkish media reports further said that the CHP’s list did not include 64 of its current 134 lawmakers, while 25 of 34 current İYİ deputies did not make it to its list.

The main opposition CHP’s lists included former AKP ministers Sadullah Ergin and Selma Aliye Kavaf and party spokesperson İdris Şahin and lawmaker Mustafa Yeneroğlu among others from DEVA, SP spokesperson Birol Aydın and vice chair Bülent Kaya, the GP’s vice chairs Selçuk Özdağ and Sema Silkin Ün – a former assistant to Erdoğan’s wife Emine Erdoğan – and DP deputy Cemal Enginyurt.

The inclusion of Ergin and Ün on the CHP’s parliamentary candidate list, given their close relationship with the AKP in the past, has led to criticism.

Turkish journalist living in exile Can Dündar described their candidacy from the CHP ranks as being “too much.”

The party’s list further included Mustafa Sarıgül, leader of the Party of Change in Turkey (TDP), and Türkan Elçi, the widow of slain prominent human rights lawyer and former head of the Diyarbakır Bar Association Tahir Elçi.

Former football players Gökhan Zan and Ünal Karaman and Ayyüce Türkeş, the daughter of Alparslan Türkeş, were among the candidates of the nationalist İYİ Party.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)’s co-chairs Mithat Sancar and Pervin Buldan in addition to the party’s group deputy chair Saruhan Oluç and former MPs Sırrı Sakık and Sırrı Süreyya Önder were nominated on the Green Left Party’s (YSP) list.

The HDP decided to run under the banner of the YSP in the parliamentary elections in a bid to circumvent the risks that could emerge from its possible closure ahead of the elections.

The HDP is facing a closure case on terrorism charges that was filed in March 2021 and could be concluded before the elections since the Constitutional Court, which is hearing the case, has rejected the HDP’s request to delay the verdict until after the elections.

Meanwhile, local media reported that the ruling AKP’s far-right ally the MHP nominated its central executive council member İbrahim Çiftçi, who had received a death sentence for a political murder in 1978, to run in the capital Ankara.

Çiftçi, who had confessed to assassinating Turkish prosecutor Doğan Öz in 1978 and was consequently sentenced to death, was acquitted in 1985 after Turkey’s Military Court of Appeals overturned the court’s decision,

The parliamentary and presidential elections will be held on May 14 in the historic year 2023, which marks the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey.

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