As Turkey prepares for local elections on 31 March, all eyes are on the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party), with speculation growing about the possible candidacy of Başak Demirtaş in Istanbul.
Başak Demirtaş, the wife of imprisoned Kurdish politician and former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş, has become a prominent figure in the ongoing discourse about the DEM Party’s candidate for the Istanbul elections.
The buzz began following Demirtaş’s statement that she was open to running in Istanbul, depending on the preferences of the party and the public. Although she has not officially filed to run, her statement has become a central focus in the unfolding political narrative.
According to sources within the DEM Party, Demirtaş has not formally applied for candidacy at the time of writing. Her public statement remains the only formal statement the party has received regarding her possible candidacy.
Responding to the speculation, DEM Deputy Group Leader Gülistan Kılıç Koçyiğit said during a press conference on Wednesday that despite the lack of an official application, the party considered Demirtaş a “candidate for nomination”. Koçyiğit clarified: “We do not need an additional application. The term ‘official application’ probably refers to the submission of documents, and she has not submitted such an application. Nevertheless, her statement is an application for us. She is a candidate for nomination, the most formidable of our potential candidates. There are no obstacles to her candidacy and we express our satisfaction with this.”
DEM Party wants to win, not just shift victories
DEM Party Spokeswoman Ayşegül Doğan recently stressed that the party’s strategy for Istanbul is to focus on winning, rather than securing a victory for someone else or causing a loss for others, referring to the pro-Kurdish parties’ established role of “king-maker” in Turkish elections. If a decision is made to field a candidate in Istanbul, the nature of the candidate would become crucial and the candidate should contribute more to the party’s success.