Pro-Kurdish opposition to maintain previous strategy in Istanbul poll re-run

Leader of the opposition pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) announced on Tuesday that the party will maintain their previous election strategy in the Istanbul poll re-run by supporting the candidate of the main opposition, Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Ekrem Imamoglu.

At the request of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) announced late on Monday that the March 31 Istanbul mayoral election be annulled and re-run in June.

In the March 31 elections, HDP did not nominate candidates in three major cities – Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir – in a bid to support the opposition, CHP, against Erdogan’s AKP.

HDP co-leader, Sezai Temelli, said at the HDP’s parliamentary group meeting that their strategy would be the same in the upcoming re-run in Istanbul on June 23.

“We changed the course of politics”

“We set a strategy on March 31 and we changed the course of politics. We did not do this [only] for three municipalities [Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir], we strived for the peace that Turkey misses. Tomorrow, we will continue to do what we did yesterday,” Temelli said.

HDP co-chair defined the June 23 election as a referendum for Erdogan’s authoritarian system and called for the opposition parties to move together.

Temelli labeled the YSK “Supreme Fraud Council” and criticized the opposition parties as they remained silent against YSK’s HDP-related decisions, saying, “The YSK lost all of its legitimacy. But we have said this many times. We warned Turkey – all the people. But Turkey did not look at [what happened in] Mus and Malazgirt [where election boards rejected HDP’s appeals]. It didn’t look at the unlawfulness that the HDP was subjected to.”

Temelli’s statement came shortly after rumors of a possible AKP-HDP partnership when Erdogan allowed Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), to meet his attorneys on May 2, which HDP has been requesting for almost eight years.

HDP has long called on Erdogan to lift the isolation imposed on Ocalan, with many HDP affiliated people staging hunger strikes for that purpose.

Some critics raised concerns about Erdogan’s positive step towards ending Ocalan’s isolation shortly before the YSK’s Istanbul decision caused doubts about a deal between AKP and HDP regarding the June 23 Istanbul elections.

Ahmet Sik, a lawmaker from HDP, denied such an AKP-HDP coalition, echoing Temelli’s statement that HDP would repeat its March 31 strategy in the June 23 Istanbul election.

Sik interpreted Erdogan’s move towards partially lifting the isolation as an election tactic through which Erdogan wants to gain conservative Kurds.

However, there would be no peace process again between AKP and PKK as in the period of 2009-2015, according to the HDP lawmaker.

“There is no such thing as peace process”

On Tuesday, Erdogan echoed HDP’s Sik, stating, “There is no such thing as the peace process.”

In 2009, Erdogan, then Prime Minister, initiated a process of talks between Turkey’s intelligence service and the PKK leadership in a bid to resolve the decades-long conflict.

The 2013 truce worked until September 2014, when the relations became strained due to a spillover of the Syrian Civil War. In July 2015, the truce fully collapsed, with the renewed full-scale warfare in the predominantly Kurdish populated south-eastern Turkey, causing hundreds of civilian deaths, forced migrations and demolition of town centers.

Jailed PKK leader calls for negotiation and reconciliation

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