Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is planning to nominate jailed politician Gültan Kışanak as its presidential candidate in 2023 elections, journalist İsmail Saymaz reported on Saturday.
The party have decided to nominate a female politician as presidential candidate in the upcoming elections, Saymaz said, citing unnamed sources in the HDP.
Kışanak, who was a former MP, was elected as the co-mayor of the southern province of Diyarbakır (Amed) in 2014. Following the collapse of peace negotiations between the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Kışanak, like other high-profile Kurdish politicians, was arrested in 2016 over charges of “being a member of a terrorist organisation”.
Kışanak was later sentenced to 14 years and three months in prison, but an appeals court overturned the sentence.
The politician is also among 108 defendants of what is known in Turkey as the Kobane trial, named after the 2014 protests in Turkey organised in solidarity with the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane, which at the time was under the threat of the Islamic State (ISIS). An arrest warrant for Kışanak over the Kobane trial was issued in 2020, after her prison sentence was overturned.
At the moment there is no final verdict for Kışanak in both cases.
Meanwhile, quoting a senior politician in HDP, Saymaz said that the party could review its decision, if the opposition alliance of six other parties decided to nominate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) as presidential candidate.
While the HDP is not a part of the alliance led by the CHP and the centre-right İyi Party, Kurdish votes are expected to play a vital role in a potential opposition victory that can end Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s rule as president.
Kılıçdaroğlu has been signalling his intentions to run for presidential elections for months, while there is also a huge support among voters for the Istanbul and Ankara mayors, who declared victory in 2019 local elections against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
After an Istanbul court this week sentenced Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu to more than two-and-a-half years in prison for insulting a public official, many analysts, as well as opposition voters on social media, have stated that his chances for being nominated as presidential candidate have increased.
HDP voters supported İmamoğlu in 2019 mayoral elections, but this time for the 2023 presidential elections, the pro-Kurdish party’s leadership prefers Kılıçdaroğlu instead of the Istanbul mayor according to Saymaz, a well-known opposition journalist in Turkey who at the moment works for Halk TV, which has strong ties with CHP headquarters.