After he was named as the presidential candidate for Turkey’s Nation Alliance, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), addressed his supporters in a late night rally in Ankara on Monday.
Ekrem İmamoğlu, the mayor of İstanbul, and Mansur Yavaş, the mayor of Ankara, also joined Kılıçdaroğlu on the stage, portraying a united front for the 14 May elections.
The two mayors were introduced as the future vice presidents of the country, although the 12-point agreement made by six opposition parties leaves room for Kılıçdaroğlu to make the final decision about their prospects.
The Nation Alliance, made up of six political parties, on Monday prevented a possible split that could cause the opposition to lose the presidential elections against the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Meral Akşener, the leader of the centre-right Good Party opposed Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy last week and instead called on the CHP-elected mayors of two metropolitan cities to take responsibility.
Many feared that the harsh words Akşener used against her partners would make reconciliation impossible but two-days of intense negotiations persuaded her to return to the table and approve a last-minute deal that includes İmamoğlu and Yavaş to be appointed as vice presidents after the elections. The timing of those appointments and the missions of mayors as future vice presidents will be decided by Kılıçdaroğlu.
Temel Karamollaoğlu, the leader of the Islamist Felicity Party (SP), announced Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy after hours of negotiations in his party headquarters. The announcement surprised many as Kılıçdaroğlu in his acceptance speech told the crowd that the leaders of the remaining five parties would serve as vice presidents if he is elected as the 13th president of the Turkish Republic.
Kılıçdaroğlu later went to CHP headquarters to address hundreds of supporters waiting for him outside.
“We have embarked on a journey with Ekrem İmamoğlu and Mansur Yavaş. May our path be bright,” he said.
“Today, I stand before you as a representative of change rather than a candidate. I am here as a spokesperson for a shared perspective that has been forged through years of hard work and dedication,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, referring to years of efforts towards forging an alliance between Turkey’s once divided opposition.
“Myself and our alliance are seeking to govern this country with wisdom, virtue, and merit. I am not merely a candidate for the presidency; I am a candidate for prosperity, peace, and justice. I aim to see contented faces once again. I am a candidate for more than just winning an election,” he added, underlining that the values of his government will be different than those of Erdoğan’s.
Kılıçdaroğlu said he would be a candidate for winning hearts, alleviating concerns, overcoming fears, reconciling grudges, and bringing prosperity to everyone’s tables. The politician added that every vote in his favour in the upcoming elections will make each voter a candidate to change the country into what it deserves to be.
“I have come a long way on this journey. Along the way, I have collected the stories of the people of this beautiful country in my saddlebags. Their faces, voices, and aspirations have become my compass. Now, I am running alongside them, we are all candidates! We want to change this order that they call fate,” he said.
“You will not only vote for me, but you will also vote for yourselves, your loved ones, and your future. Because you are the ones who will change this order. This is the beginning of a complete transformation,” Kılıçdaroğlu told citizens.
“We will give back to the people what was taken from them. Together, we will establish the order that we deserve. We will succeed by uniting. I am not just a candidate, we are all candidates. Let us begin, dear people, let us begin,” he concluded.