The Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party) has decided to field candidates in western Turkey, including Istanbul’s Metropolitan Municipality, for the upcoming local elections. While names for Istanbul remain under discussion, Veli Saçılık has been confirmed for Bolu, with Kemal Bülbül emerging as a potential candidate for Antalya.
During a meeting led by co-chairs Tülay Hatimoğulları and Tuncer Bakırhan, the party’s Central Executive Committee (MYK) deliberated extensively on whether to nominate candidates across various western cities and districts, ultimately opting to contest in Istanbul.
In Bolu, the party has officially chosen Veli Saçılık as its candidate. For Antalya, while a final decision is pending, Kemal Bülbül, a former MP for the region, is considered a strong contender.
Party Spokeswoman Ayşegül Doğan is expected to announce the candidates for multiple cities in a press conference on Sunday, marking a significant step for the DEM Party in the lead-up to the local elections.
Veli Saçılık is a well-known sociologist and human rights activist in Turkey, recognised for his advocacy work, particularly on behalf of the disabled and disenfranchised. He gained prominence following his involvement in political protests, which resulted in his arm being amputated by a police panzer during a prison operation. Saçılık has since been a vocal critic of state violence and imprisonment policies, making him a symbol of resistance and resilience in Turkey.
Kemal Bülbül is a seasoned politician affiliated with pro-Kurdish political movements in Turkey. He has served as a Member of Parliament, representing the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which is known for advocating for Kurdish rights and democracy in Turkey. Bülbül’s political career is marked by his commitment to addressing the Kurdish issue, Alevi religious minority’s rights, and advocating for democratic reforms within the country.
As Turkey gears up for local elections on 31 March, the DEM Party is under the spotlight, with growing speculation around the candidacy of Başak Demirtaş for Istanbul. Başak, the spouse of the imprisoned Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş, has emerged as a significant figure amid discussions on DEM Party’s potential nominees. Despite not officially filing for candidacy, her openness to run, if favoured by the party and the public, has stirred considerable attention.
The DEM Party has stated that it aims not just to participate but to secure victories, emphasising a strategic approach that goes beyond the traditional “king-maker” role in Turkish elections.