The leaders of six Turkish opposition parties have agreed to put forward a joint presidential candidate to run against incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the elections scheduled for 2023, Turkish NTV news outlet reported on Sunday.
The joint candidate will be the president of “not just the parties’ supporters, but the whole nation,” NTV cited the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the nationalist Good Party (İYİP), the Islamist Felicity Party (SP) and the Democrat Party (DP), the Future Party (GP) and the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) as saying in a statement following a six-hour meeting.
The opposition parties, which form the Nation’s Alliance, earlier this year teamed up to sign a joint declaration to restore the parliamentary system and strip the powers of the president if they win 2023 elections.
Sunday’s statement stopped short of naming a nominee, but emphasized the need for Turkey’s return to the parliamentary system, saying the joint nominee would soon end the ‘’dark days’’ looming over the country.
“The language of anger and hatred will end, and that of kindness and reciprocal respect will win. Democracy and the supremacy of the law will be enacted,’’ the parties said.
This is the first time for leaders of the opposition have publicly announced a joint nominee against Erdoğan, the only nominee of the ruling People’s Alliance, whose only partner is the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
Erdoğan has led Turkey for almost two decades. The 68-year-old leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) was re-elected president in 2018 with vastly enhanced executive powers following a nationwide referendum marred by opposition allegations of vote-rigging. His political opponents accuse him of bypassing parliament through presidential decrees, undercutting the judiciary’s independence and of seeking to suppress all opposition to his rule.
Support for Erdoğan and his ruling alliance has steadily declined as inflation in the country has hit a 24-year-high of 80 percent, sparking a cost of living crisis.
The leaders of the six parties are set to hold a second round of consultations in October, after Turkish parliament’s autumn session opens, NTV said.
The next meeting between the leaders will be hosted by CHP chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, whose name has been listed a strong candidates in the presidential polls.