Turkey’s opposition against Erdoğan grappling with fractures - Financial Times

The rifts between Turkey’s opposition parties seeking to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the next elections are preventing them from coming together for a simple cup of tea, the Financial Times said on Thursday.

The diversity of the country’s opposition parties is proving to be a hinderance for plans to end the 20-year era of Erdoğan and restore parliament's power, it said, highlighting a recent clash between the centre-right nationalist Good Party (İYİP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

İYİP leader Meral Akşener made headlines earlier this month when she said  she would not “sit at any table where the HDP has a seat,” in response to a suggestion by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Gürsel Tekin that the HDP could run a ministry if the opposition were to win in the elections scheduled for next year.

“And the HDP cannot sit at any table where we have a seat,” the leader of the nationalist İYİP said, to which the HDP responded by saying that members of the pro-Kurdish party wouldn’t even “drink tea in the same teahouse” as Akşener, SoL news site reported.

The debate, sparked by a dispute over the composition of a post-Erdoğan authorities, has served as a proxy for deeper disagreements and the yet-to-be determined challenge of who would be the joint candidate to step up against Erdoğan in a presidential race, according to the Financial Times.

“I think the İYİP used (it) as an excuse to indirectly confront the CHP, which is something they’ve wanted to do for some time,” Berk Esen, an assistant professor of political science at Istanbul’s Sabancı University, told the Financial Times. “There were already intra-coalition rifts brewing. This became a convenient issue for (the) İYİP to use to rock the boat.”

While the opposition bloc’s two main party leaders, CHP’s Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and İYİP’s Akşener, are publicly dedicated to working collectively, it aid, there are deep and rising rifts over the technique for the upcoming elections.

The leading issue of contention among the parties is the opposition’s joint presidential candidate, it said, with Kılıçdaroğlu emerging as a likely candidate, while Akşener, who has counted herself out of the race, favours CHP mayor of Ankara, Mansur Yavaş.

Another issue is İYİP’s objection to Kılıçdaroğlu’s overtures to the HDP, which is not part of the official six-party opposition alliance, but whose voter base will play a key role in the election. Kurds make up between 15-20 percent of Turkey’s population and played a pivotal role in the opposition victories of the 2019 local elections. 

The challenges facing an alliance that includes Kurds and Turks, secularists and conservatives, leftists and rightists ahead of June 2023 are mounting, the Financial Times said.

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