ANKARA — Whilecandidates for Turkey's first presidential election to be decided by popular vote have yet to be officially named, the latest signals from the opposition parties indicate that they will unable to nominate a joint candidate.
The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) continued to hold meetings to take the pulse of its voter base over the weekend. Last weekend CHP leader Kemal Kılıcdaroğlu met with local party heads across Turkey to evaluate the results of the local elections and discuss potential candidates for the presidential election. Sources stated that Kılıcdaroğlu asked local heads to suggest three names as candidate for the presidential election as part of an unofficial poll. According to the results, local heads showed the greatest amount of interest in Kılıcdaroğlu and Eskişehir Mayor Yılmaz Buyukerşen.
Nationalist Action Party (MHP) Leader Devlet Bahceli said his party will select their own candidate for the presidential election. "During the presidential election all political parties will have to campaign and nominate a candidate to the public. As MHP we will nominate a candidate who is a valuable member of our party to protect our unitary structure, territorial integrity and our national state.
We will be in this race," he said.
In addition to the CHP and MHP, the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (HDP) will likely nominate its own candidate for the upcoming election. Imprisoned leader of the outlawed PKK terror organization Abdullah Ocalan reportedly said that pro-Kurdish parties should have their own candidate. Ocalan remarked that the presidential candidate is an important figure and that the country should have a candidate who embraces the whole of the working class when the parliamentarians from the HDP visited him at İmralı Prison over the weekend.
Despite opposition parties failing to agree on a joint presidential candidate, they are still seeking opportunities to form an alliance against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's possible bid for the presidency. Kılıcdaroğlu conditionally supports the idea of agreeing on a joint opposition candidate and gave the green light to an alliance just after the local election. "I say the new president shouldn't have a party background or a political identity.He should be a civilian. We want a highly educated president who can read the global balance well, somebody that all citizens accept," Kılıcdaroğlu said two days after the March 30 local election.
While opposition parties stumble, Erdoğan is seen as a possible candidate by AK Party members despite the fact that he has not yet officially announced his intention to run. Moreover, a recent survey suggests that Erdoğan may get elected in the first round of the election. Several media outlets claimed yesterday that the AK Party's latest survey suggests that Prime Minister Erdoğan may be elected in the first round of the election with 51.5 percent support. Touching on the presidential election at the rally in the central Anatolian city Yozgat on Sunday, Erdoğan remarked that he believes the AK Party's candidate will be elected in the first round. "In Turkey members of Parliament will no longer elect the president, people will decide on it. On Aug. 10 the public will elect the Head of the Public [President]. The first round of the election is on Aug.10 and the second round on Aug. 24, but I believe that the AK Party's candidate will be elected by the people in the first round," Erdoğan added.
Last Thursday President Abdullah Gul and Erdoğan held their weekly meeting and engaged in initial discussions on the upcoming presidential election. Erdoğan stated earlier that they will discuss the presidential election with Gul, however, he also reported that they will hold more comprehensive discussions in May. Erdoğan will then gather with AK Party deputies at a retreat in Afyon on May 9 to discuss the presidential election. Following that gathering, the AK Party central executive committee will convene, after which the AK Party will announce which candidate it will back.
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