Turkey’s anti-migrant party backs Erdogan’s rival in presidential run-off
ANKARA, Türkiye — On Wednesday, a radical anti-migrant party threw its support behind the opposition candidate who is running against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in this weekend’s presidential race.
Umit Ozdag, the leader of the far-right Victory Party, announced his support for the main opposition party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who will face Erdogan on Sunday. He said he decided to support Kilicdaroglu after the two men reached consensus on the need to repatriate millions of migrants within a year.
Kilicdaroglu has made it very clear that the refugees should return to their homeland and that is the policy he will implement, Ozdag told reporters after several rounds of talks with Kilicdaroglu. Therefore, as the Victory Party, we have decided to support Mr. Kilicdaroglu in the second round of the presidential election.”
Ozdag added that the two men agreed on “a model consistent with international laws and respectful of human rights, which would guarantee the safety of Syrians in Syria but ease the heavy burden on the Turkish economy and that would make our streets safe again”.
Ozdags’ announcement came just days after Sinan Ogan, the third candidate in the first round of the May 14 presidential election, endorsed Erdogan in the upcoming run-off. Ogan was the joint candidate of an alliance of smaller conservative parties, led by the Ozdags Victory Party.
According to a seven-point protocol signed between Kilicdaroglu and Ozdag, the two also agreed on the need to maintain an effective and determined fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and other groups that Turkey considers terrorists. . Both men said they would respect the country’s secular traditions and fight corruption.
Erdogan won 49.5% of the vote in the first round of the presidential race just short of the majority needed for an outright victory against 44.9% for Kilicdaroglus. Ogan received 5.2%.
Erdogan’s ruling party and its nationalist and Islamist allies also retained a majority in the 600-seat parliament, a development that increases Erdogan’s chances of being re-elected as voters are likely to vote for him to avoid a government. broke, analysts said.
In an apparent attempt to woo nationalist voters in the run-off, Kilicdaroglu had toughened his stance last week, promising to send the refugees back and ruling out any peace talks with Kurdish militants if elected. Kilicdaroglu had previously said he planned to repatriate Syrians within two years, creating favorable economic and security conditions for their return.
Kilicdaroglu, 74, is the joint candidate for a six-party opposition alliance, which has pledged to reverse Turkey’s authoritarian drift under Erdogan and return the country to parliamentary democracy with greater checks and balances .
Turkey is home to the largest refugee community in the world, including 3.7 million Syrians. Anti-migrant sentiment is high in the country amid economic turbulence, including high inflation, and the issue of migrant repatriation has become a major campaign issue.
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