The People’s Democratic Party (HDP) has decided to nominate its own candidate for Turkey’s forthcoming presidential elections, but is also open to dialogue on the issue, said the party’s co-chair Pervin Buldan in Kars on Saturday.
“Everyone is keen to know who the presidential candidate will be. We will announce the HDP’s presidential candidate to the people of Turkey as soon as possible,” Buldan said.
Buldan’s comments on the presidential elections came after the six-party opposition Nation Alliance declared on Friday that they would be starting discussions on their presidential candidate.
People in Turkey will vote for a new president and MPs in forthcoming elections which are scheduled for June, but are expected to be held earlier.
The HDP itself is not part of the Nation Alliance, led by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), but has established an alternative, the Labour and Freedom Alliance, with a number of other left-wing parties.
Both opposition alliances will run their own candidates for parliamentary elections, but the Nation Alliance needs the support of Kurdish voters to have any hope of winning presidential elections against the incumbent president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who will stand for the People’s Alliance, formed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
“We are neither in partnership with the People’s Alliance nor with the Nation Alliance. But we have an approach based on principles and when the time comes we can sit and talk together, negotiate, stay in dialogue. But the HDP’s decision at the moment is to run for the elections with its own candidate,” Buldan said.
According to Turkey’s election system, a presidential candidate should secure more than 50% of the vote to declare victory in the first round. If no candidate obtains a simple majority, then run-off elections are held between the two candidates who receive the highest shares of votes in the first round.
If the HDP nominates its own candidate, then none of the candidates will secure a simple majority in the first round, according to current polls.
Buldan is not the only HDP official to have commented on the presidential election recently.
“The presidential election will be an election that can change the regime,” said Saruhan Oluç, deputy leader of the party’s parliamentary group on Sunday. “If no-one negotiates with us, as a party that has 12-13% of the vote in the polls, we will continue walking along our own path,” he said.
Oluç’s comments came after the party’s parliamentary group leader Meral Danış Beştaş declared the criteria required for the HDP to support the Nation Alliance’s presidential candidate, saying the candidate’s approach to the Kurdish issue would be a litmus test for them.
Meanwhile, HDP executive member Sultan Özcan told Artı Gerçek on Sunday that the party had consulted with its alliance partners about their candidate for the presidential election in a meeting held on 5 January.
“We had already expressed that we were open to dialogue with any opposition that demonstrates a will to bring an end to the current government. But at the same time we stressed that they should not treat us carelessly, and during this meeting we discussed possible outcomes if that were to happen. We exchanged opinions with the members of our alliance on the profile of the candidate,” Özcan said.
The politician added that potential names for the Labour and Freedom Alliance’s presidential candidate would become clearer at a meeting to be held after a joint rally on 15 January.