Gürsel Erol, a Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy from eastern Turkey's Elazığ, said Tuesday that equating the PKK with the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) was not appropriate after the latter announced it would not field mayor candidates in three of Turkey's biggest cities.
"I do not think it is right to associate the HDP with the [PKK] terrorist organization. I cannot know whether the HDP is connected to terrorism, only the intelligence community can have a say in this matter," Erol said in a TV interview. The HDP, which has been condemned for its close ties with the PKK, announced Monday that it will not nominate mayoral candidates in seven major municipalities, including Istanbul, İzmir, and Ankara, in the March 31 local elections. The decision raised questions on a possible secret alliance between the CHP and HDP. The CHP has refrained from officially including the HDP in its electoral alliance with the right-wing Good Party (İP), amid fears of possible backlash from its secular-nationalist voter base. In the June 24, 2018 general elections, however, the CHP had urged its voter base to vote for the HDP to stop the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) from having a single majority - a possibility had the HDP not passed the 10-percent threshold and failed to win Parliament seats.
The HDP has long been accused of having close ties with the PKK. In September 2018, former HDP Chairman Selahattin Demirtaş was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison for carrying out terrorist propaganda. Demirtaş has been in prison since 2016 on terrorism-related charges.
In November 2016, 13 HDP lawmakers were arrested. Nine of them, including HDP Co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ, remain under arrest awaiting trial on charges of being members or leaders of and committing crimes for the PKK.