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Pro-Kurdish HDP to run in major cities for 2024 local elections, in departure from 2019 strategy

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The Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) announced on Friday its intention to field mayoral candidates in major cities in elections scheduled for March 31, 2024, in a departure from their strategy in the 2019 local elections, where their tacit support for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) resulted in victories for opposition candidates in İstanbul and Ankara.

HDP co-chair Pervin Buldan, speaking during a visit to celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha in eastern Van province, expressed the party’s determination to nominate candidates in all provinces, particularly in major cities, to assert their presence in the political struggle.

In the 2019 local elections, the HDP did not field mayoral candidates in certain provinces, including İstanbul and Ankara. In İstanbul, CHP candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu emerged victorious in a closely contested election. After the Supreme Election Board (YSK) ordered that the election be rerun due to irregularities, İmamoğlu secured a win with a higher margin of votes. Similarly, in Ankara, the CHP’s candidate, Mansur Yavaş, won against the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) candidate.

The HDP did not nominate a presidential candidate in the 2023 presidential election but instead supported CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

The election on May 14 saw the incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan short of securing a win.

Erdoğan was the winner of a runoff on May 28 that will extend his 20-year rule until 2028, receiving 52.1 percent of the nationwide vote, while his main rival, Kılıçdaroğlu, got 47.8 percent.

President Erdoğan has frequently accused the HDP of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community. During the election campaign, Erdoğan accused the opposition, including the HDP, of collaborating with the PKK.

The HDP has faced criticism from some of its constituents for aligning with the CHP in recent elections without receiving any tangible benefits in return, which has further provoked a government crackdown on Kurds.

The party’s decision to field mayoral candidates in metropolitan municipalities could potentially lead to the CHP’s defeat in these races, as the opposition vote may be split against the candidate of the ruling AKP.

The HDP is currently facing a closure case initiated in March 2021 due to allegations of its links to the PKK, which has been engaged in a conflict in Turkey’s Southeast since 1984.

The HDP ran in the elections under the banner of another party, the Green Left Party (YSP), to circumvent the risks that could emerge from its possible closure ahead of the elections.

The YSP secured 8.8 percent of the vote in the 2023 parliamentary elections, while the HDP won 11.7 percent in the 2018 parliamentary elections.

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