The Peoples’ Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party has put forward Meral Danış Beştaş and Murat Çepni as their co-mayoral candidates for the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality in anticipation of the upcoming local elections.
The pro-Kurdish party unveiled its co-chair candidates for key municipalities across Turkey in a press conference held at the party’s headquarters on Friday. Spokeswoman Ayşegül Doğan revealed the names of the candidates who will be vying for leadership roles in 16 metropolises, 40 provinces, and three districts.
One of the most closely watched races is in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city and economic powerhouse. The announcement of Beştaş and Çepni’s candidacy comes amid heightened political tension and anticipation surrounding the municipal elections, which are seen as a crucial gauge of public sentiment.
The selection of co-chair candidates by the DEM Party is not just a local electoral strategy but also a reflection of the party’s broader ambitions to influence Turkey’s national political narrative. Unlike the 2019 local elections, the pro-Kurdish DEM Party is poised to re-shape the political narrative by nominating its own candidates in Istanbul, affecting the strategy of both the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) and the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
By targeting key municipalities, including Istanbul, the party seeks to assert its role as a major player in shaping the future of Turkish democracy and governance.
Beştaş, DEM Party’s candidate for Istanbul co-mayor, is a lawyer specialised in women’s rights and human rights. Beştaş has acted as a lawyer in cases of rights violations brought to the European Court of Human Rights and was the applicant lawyer in the first case in which Turkey was convicted for domestic violence (Opuz case). Beştaş was previously elected as a Member of Parliament at the June 2015 general election.
Çepni has been active in politics since 2010. Between 2010 and 2016, he was an executive member of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP). Since 2016, he has been involved with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) as a member of the party assembly, deputy co-chair for ecology and member of the central executive committee.