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Pro-Kurdish party calls on voters to back Kılıçdaroğlu in critical election

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Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party and its leftist allies called on voters Friday to back Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s main rival, in the May 14 polls, Agence France-Presse reported.

The announcement pushes one of Turkey’s largest voting blocs behind opposition candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and further complicates Erdoğan’s path to a third decade of rule.

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) — the third-largest in Turkey’s parliament — decided last month not to field a presidential candidate.

It then strongly hinted that it backed Kılıçdaroğlu but never officially supported his candidacy.

But both the party’s co-leader and its leftist electoral alliance issued statements Friday calling on voters to rally around the most likely man to beat Erdoğan.

“In this historic election, we call on the peoples of Turkey to vote for the Labor and Freedom Alliance in the parliamentary elections and for Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in the presidential elections,” the HDP and its allies said in a statement.

HDP co-leader Mithat Sancar called the upcoming vote “the most crucial in Turkey’s history.”

“That’s why we’ve decided to support Kılıçdaroğlu,” he told the Sözcü news site.

The HDP won more than 10 percent of the vote in past national elections and represents a community accounting for about a fifth of Turkey’s population.

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