Two major pro-Kurdish parties in Turkey have announced their continued support for opposition presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu despite the fact that he struck a deal with a far-right leader that includes elements potentially upsetting to Kurds.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the Green Left Party (YSP) announced their decision at a news conference at HDP headquarters in Ankara on Thursday.
Party officials said they would continue to support Kılıçdaroğlu to end the “one-man rule” of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which they said is the root cause of the social problems in the country.
Turkish media outlets reported that some HDP members wanted to call for a boycott of the runoff election in protest of Kılıçdaroğlu’s courting of ultranationalist politicians.
But HDP co-leader Pervin Buldan told reporters that staying away from the polls would only help Erdoğan secure another five-year term.
“Erdoğan is not an option for us,” Buldan said.
“On May 28, we will complete the work that we left unfinished on May 14. In the face of those who try to prevent this demand for change, we will definitely go to the polls,” she added.
Turkish journalist Can Dündar, who lives in exile in Germany, praised the Kurdish parties’ decision to continue supporting Kılıçdaroğlu and said, “We are heading to the May 28 runoff with the largest united front against autocracy in Turkish history.”
The HDP and YSP held a meeting to review their position on Wednesday afternoon after Kılıçdaroğlu signed a seven-article protocol with Ümit Özdağ, leader of the Victory Party (ZP) earlier in the day. Özdağ announced his support for Kılıçdaroğlu’s presidential candidacy against Erdoğan in a runoff on Sunday.
Among other things, Kılıçdaroğlu and Özdağ agreed in the protocol to appoint state officials instead of elected mayors “whose connections with terrorism are legally proven.”
This article concerns dozens of democratically elected Kurdish mayors who were removed from office by the Turkish government under the pretext of having links to terrorism.
It also runs contrary to an earlier pledge from Kılıçdaroğlu, who said following a meeting with an HDP co-chairperson in March after seeking the party’s support that he finds the replacement of mayors with trustees to be wrong. Kılıçdaroğlu said at the time that an elected official should only leave office through elections.
The HDP, which ran in the May 14 general election under the banner of the YSP because the party faces the risk of being shut down due to an ongoing closure case against it, has not fielded its own presidential candidate but opted to support Kılıçdaroğlu to increase his chances of unseating Erdoğan.
According to the election results, Erdoğan received 49.52 percent of the vote, while Kılıçdaroğlu, the candidate of the opposition bloc Nation Alliance, garnered 44.88 percent.
Meanwhile, Buldan criticized the agreement between Kılıçdaroğlu and Özdağ to send Syrian refugees in the country back to Syria if Kılıçdaroğlu is elected.
“It is wrong to score political points off migrants or refugees,” Buldan said.
“We will not back down from our stance under any circumstances.”
But she added that her main goal on Sunday was ending Erdogan’s “one-man rule.”
Following the May 14 election, the soft-spoken Kılıçdaroğlu adopted a harsher tone and began to send nationalistic messages in the wake of a defamation campaign by Erdoğan’s government to associate him with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) due to the HDP’s alleged support for the group.
The HDP denies any links to the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community, and says it is working for the expansion of the rights and freedoms of the country’s Kurds.