Kurds hint at election support as Türkiye's opposition names candidate



Türkiye's pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) has called for talks with the opposition alliance, after the so-called "Table of Six" named its candidate for the forthcoming presidential elections in May.

Veteran Republican leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu has been selected to run against President Erdogan, in what analysts say could be the most significant polls to take place in the country for two decades.

On Friday, the leader of the IYI (Good) Party, Meral Aksener, briefly threatened to quit the alliance if Kilicdaroglu won the candidacy. A former parliamentarian with the far right Nationalist Movement Party, Aksener said the bloc risked "losing its ability to reflect the will of the nation" under his leadership.

But after tense hours of negotiations in Ankara on Monday, a compromise deal was struck allowing 74-year-old Kilicdaroglu to go forward.

Now the pro-Kurdish HDP, which had been excluded from the six-party alliance, has hinted it may offer its backing at the May polls. HDP co-chair Mithat Sancar told the Haberturk TV channel "If we can agree on fundamental principles, we may support him (Kilicdaroglu)."

Analysts say the upcoming presidential election could see a repeat of the Istanbul mayoral race of 2019. Then, the candidate from the main opposition Republican People's Party Ekrem Imamoglu claimed victory in a re-run contest, largely through support of Kurdish voters, after the HDP took the radical step to withdraw from the race.

'Time of solidarity'

HDP has faced an ongoing crackdown and possible ban from politics by the AKP government of President Erdogan, over its alleged ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

In January, HDP, Türkiye's third largest political group with around 10 percent of the vote, had its bank accounts frozen by a court ahead of election campaigning.

From his prison cell in Edirne, where he has served five years on terrorism charges, HDP's former co-chair Selahattin Demirtas has tweeted "now is the time of solidarity."

However, poll watchers warn that the HDP's endorsement may not be welcomed by the coalition, which is made up of mostly nationalist and Islamist groups opposed to the Kurdish cause.

President Erdogan is seeking a third decade in power, promising economic growth and a robust foreign policy as the conflict in Ukraine continues.

But February's earthquake, which killed more than 45,000 in southeastern Türkiye, has invigorated the opposition. It accuses the AKP of abetting deaths by allowing corruption and poor building standards to prevail.