Sırrı Süreyya Önder nominated as candidate for Istanbul mayor
HDP co-chair Ertuğrul Kürkçü (L) and Sırrı Süreyya Önder speak during a press conference on Dec. 4. AA photoThe moviemaker turned politician Sırrı Süreyya Önder has been officially nominated Dec. 4 as candidate for Istanbul’s mayor post in the upcoming local elections by the recently formed People’s Democratic Party (HDP). The announcement ended months of speculation on whether Önder, a prominent figure in the Gezi Park protests, intended to run despite his candidacy potentially dividing the votes of the opposition.
Noting that Önder stopped the bulldozers from cutting down trees in Istanbul’s Gezi Park during the first day of the protests that would subsequently spread across Turkey, his nomination for Istanbul was a response to the expectations of the city’s locals, HDP co-chair Ertuğrul Kürkçü said.
Önder had also been injured when police fired tear gas and water cannons while he was making a statement to denounce the violent dawn raids to evacuate the campers at the park. He joined last month the umbrella organization HDP, formed by leftist movements and supported by his former Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).
During his nominations, Önder appealed to voters on the left and criticized the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) for having urged the HDP to support their candidate in order not to divide votes against the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) candidate.
Önder also argued that the CHP did not represent the left. “No leftist can accept the CHP’s hypocrisy on labor, city rights and the Kurdish issue. I call on the people to give a slap to the mentality that describes running in elections as a “shame’.”
CHP had recently brought within its ranks the mayor of Istanbul’s vibrant Şişli district, Mustafa Sarıgül, who is suggested as the figure who can garner the most votes against any ruling AKP candidate.
Kürkçü, for his part, said the party would participate in the local elections in 61 provinces with its own candidates, ruling out suggestions that the HDP is seeking an alliance with CHP.
Describing the CHP and AKP “the two parties of the establishment,” Kürkçü said they would offer people an alternative to both the AKP and the CHP.
BDP co-chair calls on CHP to support Önder
Meanwhile, BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş threw the ball back into the CHP’s court regarding the debate of presenting a common candidate, calling on the main opposition to support Önder.
“We see benefits in presenting a common candidate, but if there is a wish to unite against the AKP, the focus should be Sırrı Süreyya Önder. This is an option too. We cannot understand why there is pressure on Önder to withdraw from the race,” Demirtaş said.