The aim of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) is to establish a new Turkey without despising or ignoring anyone, said the party’s leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, on Friday in the video he released after the centre-right Good Party (İYİP) quit the Nation Alliance opposition bloc, also known as the Table of Six.
“We need to invite all colours of the country to this table. Because the aim is not just to throw out or replace the palace of tyrants,” said Kılıçdaroğlu, referring to the 1,150-room presidential palace built by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2014, despite the objections of opposition parties and NGOs.
The CHP leader’s statement came after the chair of the İYİP, Meral Akşener, announced on Friday that they withdrew from the Nation Alliance, which came together with the aim of ending the 20-year rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the general elections expected to be held on 14 May.
“We cannot pull this country together by saying that someone should not sit at the table. We cannot change Turkey by despising or ignoring some people,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. Akşener had previously stated that they would not sit at the same table with the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) which commanded more than 10 percent of the vote during the last election in 2018.
“We’ve been already living in this kind of Turkey for 20 years. [An understanding that says] Erdoğan must go but Erdoğanism should continue will not happen either. We have a historical responsibility,” said the CHP leader.
Kılıçdaroğlu stated that he does not aspire to rule the country through political conspiracies. “As for me, I cannot change now, I’ve always united, and I will continue to do so. The table has to be widened. And no one can stop this,” he continued. “We will defeat Erdoğan as well as Erdoğan’s propaganda machine by all means.”
During her statement on her party’s withdrawal from the Nation Alliance on Friday, Akşener stated that they are against Kılıçdaroğlu’s presidential candidacy and called for the CHP’s Istanbul and Ankara mayors to run instead of Kılıçdaroğlu, citing the polls indicating that they had a higher chance of winning.
However, polls also show that while the HDP hasn’t been a part of the Table of Six, Kurdish votes are expected to play a vital role in a potential opposition victory that can end Erdoğan’s rule as president.
HDP voters had supported Istanbul mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu in the 2019 mayoral elections, however, it is risky for İmamoğlu to run for president due to the political ban he faces over insulting members of the Supreme Electoral Council. And Ankara mayor Mansur Yavaş’s nationalist past would likely prevent him from receiving Kurdish votes.
On the other hand, Kılıçdaroğlu, whose Alevi identity has been a subject of electoral debates, is seen as the only possible opposition candidate who can win the votes of Kurdish people and left parties who will not support a nationalist candidate. In fact, HDP’s imprisoned former co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has recently openly supported Kılıçdaroğlu.
Meanwhile, Yavaş and İmamoğlu rejected Akşener’s call and announced on their Twitter accounts that they would remain loyal to the CHP and the Nation Alliance.