Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chairperson of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), has said he sees no difference in voting for current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Homeland Party leader Muharrem İnce in next month’s presidential election, implying that İnce’s goal is to split the opposition’s vote, BBC Turkish edition reported.
Demirtaş gave an interview through his lawyers to BBC Turkish from Edirne Prison, where he has been jailed for around seven years.
In a move that is expected to divide votes among Turkey’s opposition, İnce, a former presidential candidate from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), announced earlier in March that he would run in the May 14 presidential election. The politician qualified to run by collecting 111,301 signatures, the Supreme Board of Elections (YSK) announced last month.
Commenting about İnce’s candidacy, Demirtaş said he can easily tell İnce’s voters to get ready for another five years with Erdoğan if they support İnce’s candidacy.
“I’d advise them to vote directly for Erdoğan,” Demirtaş said.
İnce is running against Erdoğan and CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the joint candidate of a bloc of six opposition parties, known as the Nation Alliance.
Many say İnce’s candidacy will prevent the election from being concluded in the first round, prompting Erdoğan and Kılıçdaroğlu to go to a runoff.
Demirtaş, who also commented on the HDP’s decision not to field its own candidate in tacit support for Kılıçdaroğlu, said the HDP’s decision not to nominate its own candidate was Erdoğan’s biggest nightmare.
He accused Erdoğan of trying to discredit Kılıçdaroğlu due to the HDP’s support for his candidacy since the HDP is accused by Erdoğan’s party and his far-right ally of having links to terrorism.
According to Demirtaş, if Erdoğan had been sure about getting the HDP and Kurds’ support in the election, he would set up a tent in front of party headquarters and never leave.
Demirtaş was arrested in November 2016 in a mass crackdown on Kurdish politicians and has been imprisoned since then despite a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights in November 2018 that Demirtaş’s pretrial detention was political and ordering his release.