President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slammed the Nation Alliance between the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the far-right Good Party (İP) for failing to explain to the people why it is being supported by the pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).
Speaking at a meeting in Ankara's Yenimahalle district yesterday, Erdoğan questioned the HDP's decision to not nominate candidates in Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir and back the Nation Alliance instead. "They do not talk about the dirty negotiations to carry the extensions of the PKK to municipalities through the candidate's list of the CHP and İP," he said.
The Turkish government has long accused the HDP of close links with the PKK. The HDP is known for its support of autonomy in regions where large Kurdish populations live. Also, some of its members have been charged or accused of having links to the terrorist organization. Its former co-leader, Selahattin Demirtaş, was arrested in November 2016 over terrorist propaganda.
The CHP has refrained from officially including the HDP in its electoral alliance, amid fears of a possible backlash from its secular-nationalist voter base. Yet, the candidate lists for the upcoming elections unveiled the scope of cooperation between the CHP and HDP, which led to some harsh reactions within its own party organization.
Erdoğan also criticized CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for fielding Mansur Yavaş as the party's mayoral candidate in capital Ankara. "As a leader who lost nine elections, he [Kılıçdaroğlu] found someone exactly like him. He nominated a candidate who lost the elections [in Ankara] twice," the president said.
Yavaş was a mayoral candidate in Ankara for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in 2009 but came third after long-time mayor Melih Gökçek of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the CHP's Murat Karayalçın. He then joined the CHP in 2014 and became the party's candidate in the 2014 local elections, which he lost to Gökçek again.
Erdoğan added that Mehmet Özhaseki, the People's Alliance Ankara candidate, has a symbolic place in municipal affairs. The president highlighted Özhaseki's 21 years of experience as the mayor of Kayseri and his achievements as the environment minister and the AK Party's vice chairman in charge of local administrations.
"Özhaseki put a lot of effort in as the environment minister, especially in recovering the southeastern provinces, which were tarnished by ditches and trenches dug on the streets [by the PKK]," he said.