President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan voiced a constructive criticism of the country's opposition parties, particularly the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) on Tuesday, saying he hopes the local elections will bring about a positive change in the way they mount their opposition.
"It does not suit 21st century Turkey to have such an incapable, coup-loving opposition party that has become a tool in the hands of terrorists," said Erdoğan during a rally in northern Turkey's Giresun. He was referring to the close relationship between the CHP and the pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).
"I wish for March 31 to be a new start. I wish for March 31 to be a harbinger of change for the opposition," said Erdoğan.
The HDP earlier announced that it would not nominate mayoral candidates in seven major municipalities, including Istanbul, İzmir and Ankara, in the upcoming municipal elections. The decision raised questions about a possible secret alliance between the CHP and the HDP. Both parties, however, refuted such claims.
Erdoğan underlined that even if the leaders of the party changed, the CHP insists on remaining the same with its wrong policies. "There is no such opposition party anywhere in the world that complains about its government to anyone, including the terrorists," he said. The CHP has refrained from officially including the HDP, which has been condemned for its close ties with the PKK, in the Nation Alliance – an electoral alliance with the CHP and İP – amid fears of a possible backlash from its secular-nationalist voter base.
In the 2018 general elections, however, the CHP urged its voter base to vote for the HDP to stop the AK Party from gaining a single majority. The Turkish government has long accused the HDP of having close links to the PKK. The HDP is known for its support of autonomy in the regions with large Kurdish populations. Some of its members have also been charged with or accused of having links to the PKK terrorist organization. Its former co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş was arrested in November 2016 on charges of terrorist propaganda. Many of its members have often voiced overt support for the PKK.
"Some political parties [in Turkey], think that being the opposition is to go against anything the government does. They see contradicting services and investments as equal to being the opposition," Erdoğan said, adding that they can even cross the line sometimes between opposing the government and betraying the people.
"They say they will win in Kurdistan. You, [the one who says this] please leave Turkey. There is a place called Kurdistan in Iraq, please go there. There is no such place in Turkey," Erdoğan said, referring to an incident Monday where the HDP's Şişli district head Mutlu Öztürk referred to southeastern Turkey as Kurdistan while speaking at a joint event organized for the CHP's Şişli district mayoral candidate, Muammer Keskin.
"In 'Kurdistan,' we will take back all the municipalities that now have [government] trustees. In the other parts of Turkey, on the other hand, we will not let the AK Party-MHP coalition win," the HDP member said, speaking of the country as if it consists of two separate states.