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Turkey’s anti-immigrant party leader backs Erdogan’s run-off challenger – Middle East Monitor

Turkey’s anti-immigrant party leader backs Erdogan’s run-off challenger – Middle East Monitor


Turkiye’s anti-immigrant Victory Party leader endorsed opposition presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu on Wednesday, potentially bolstering the challenger as he aims to make up ground and defeat President Tayyip Erdogan in the second round Sunday’s elections Reuters reports.

Umit Ozdag, leader of the nationalist Victory Party which received 2.2% support in the May 14 parliamentary vote, urged his supporters to back Kilicdaroglu in the May 28 runoff in which Erdogan seeks to prolong his rule two decades.

“We have decided to support Mr. Kilicdaroglu in the second round of presidential elections,” Ozdag told a news conference in Ankara, alongside Kilicdaroglu.

The endorsement could outweigh the one Erdogan received on Monday from Sinan Ogan, the presidential candidate for the far-right Victory Party-led alliance.

Ogan came third with 5.2% of the presidential vote, behind Erdogan with 49.5% and Kilicdaroglu with 44.9%.

The race for right-wing endorsements reflects stronger-than-expected support for the Nationalists on May 14. Analysts say many remain undecided, holding a possible key to victory in the second round.

READ: Is Turkey democratic enough not to enforce forced repatriation and politicize refugees?

Ozdag said his party and Kilicdaroglu had agreed on a plan to return the migrants within a year “in accordance with international law and human rights”.

Ozdag said he had similar talks with Erdogan’s AKP party (AKP), but decided not to endorse it because their plans did not involve the repatriation of migrants.

Erdogan’s strong showing in the initial vote baffled pollsters who had said Kilicdaroglu topped the polls.

His ruling coalition, the AKP, won a majority in parliament, giving Erdogan an extra edge in one of Turkey’s most important elections ever. Erdogan said a vote for him in the second round was a vote for stability.

Last week, Kilicdaroglu, leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and candidate for a six-party alliance, sharpened his tone and pledged to repatriate all migrants once elected.

Turkey is the world’s largest host of refugees, with some 5 million migrants, including 3.3 million Syrians, according to Interior Ministry data.

Kilicdaroglu also pledged to undo much of Erdogan’s sweeping changes to Turkey’s domestic, foreign and economic policies, including reversing an unorthodox economic program to address a cost-of-living crisis.

READ: 11 Turkish opposition members resign over candidates’ anti-refugee rhetoric

For Kilicdaroglu’s endorsement, his Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Victory Party also signed a memorandum setting out key principles for their cooperation.

As part of the fight against terrorism, mayors would be replaced by state-appointed administrators with court orders, in case there is legal proof that they have ties to terrorism, according to the protocol.

The protocol could draw the ire of the pro-Kurdish HDP, which ran under the banner of the Green Left Party (YSP) due to a court termination case over alleged terrorist links and has strongly backed Kilicdaroglu .

Most of the HDP mayors elected in the 2019 local elections were replaced by state-appointed administrators after being imprisoned awaiting trial on terrorism charges.

Kilicdaroglu’s six-party alliance has pledged to end the practice of replacing mayors with government-appointed administrators in its platform, stressing that elected officials will remain in office unless condemned by a court order. Justice decision.

Ozdag is a former deputy head of the nationalist MHP, which is part of Erdogan’s alliance. He then joined the IYI Party, part of Kilicdaroglu’s alliance, before being ousted and founding the Victory Party in 2021.

READ: Turkey: Cavusoglu unveils a roadmap for the return of Syrian refugees




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