BDP deputy rejects talks of election alliance

BDP deputy rejects talks of election alliance

BDP deputy rejects talks of election alliance

Deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder was a strong presence in the Gezi Park protests. DHA photo

Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) lawmaker Sırrı Süreyya Önder has ruled out the possibility of forming an alliance with the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in the upcoming local elections.

There were reports on the two opposition parties joining forces to prevent the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) from keeping its seat in Istanbul in the March 30, 2014, elections, but Önder ruled the claims out.

Earlier this week, journalist Utku Çakırözer reported in daily Cumhuriyet that the CHP was lining up Mustafa Sarıgül, a three-time reigning mayor in Istanbul’s Şişli district, for the Metropolitan Municipality seat, and was urging the BDP “not to run a strong candidate” that would negatively affect his vote tally.

Önder said Çakırözer was “an honest journalist” but added that he had built the article on “the wishful thinking of the CHP.”

“There is no such alliance,” Önder said during a televised interview on Habertürk. “If the CHP has such an expectation, then apparently I have a big voter potential. And I like it.”

Önder was elected as an independent deputy in Istanbul in the 2011 elections and has played an influential role as a member of the BDP groups visiting jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Union (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan during the peace talks to end the decades-old conflict. In the summer, he was also a strong presence in the Gezi Park protests, which turned into mass anti-government demonstrations following a heavy-handed police intervention in a sit-in against a reconstruction plan for Istanbul’s central park.

Önder then emerged as a natural BDP candidate for the mayor's post, and even though he did not confirm he would run for the position, he said Kurds would not be backing a CHP candidate.

“[They think] as if Sırrı gets out of the way, Kurds will come running to vote for the CHP, which swears at them day and night,” Önder said.

The AKP has held the Istanbul seat for two terms with Kadir Topbaş, and the seat has been held by the predecessors of the ruling party since 1994.

Current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was also a one-time holder of the prestigious seat between 1994 and 1998.