‘Grand Conciliation’ presidential candidate takes to the stage

‘Grand Conciliation’ presidential candidate takes to the stage

‘Grand Conciliation’ presidential candidate takes to the stage

Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu (3L) makes a statement at the Democratic Left Party (DSP) headquarters in Ankara, June 26.

Introduced by Turkey’s two major opposition parties as a presidential candidate symbolizing a “Grand Coalition” between two segments of the society, Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, has launched an unofficial campaign in the capital city.

İhsanoğlu has begun touring and meeting with other opposition parties in a bid to get their support with the message that he will be an “impartial president embracing the entire Turkish society.”

İhsanoğlu June 26 visited the headquarters of the Great Union Party (BBP), the Democratic Left Party (DSP) and the Democratic Party (DP), none of which are represented at Parliament. Later in the day, he also met with leaders of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the People’s Democracy Party (HDP). His call to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for a meeting was rejected due to the busy schedule of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Speaking to reporters, while hosting İhsanoğlu at the party headquarters, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu praised the former secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
“His most important characteristic is that he embraces all segments of society,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, underlining that İhsanoğlu has so far refrained from using “negative language … [and] that’s why, we support his presidential candidacy,” he added.

Kılıçdaroğlu’s emphasis on İhsanoğlu’s style was an apparent reference to the harsh rhetoric and aggressive leadership associated with Erdoğan, who will almost certainly be announced next week as the AKP’s candidate for the presidential elections in August.

“Creating a Turkey where living in serenity, and not being polarized and separated into camps, a Turkey which is respected in the world, we want to work hand in hand to further improve Turkey by paving the way for this conciliation,” İhsanoğlu said.

Earlier in the day, İhsanoğlu held separate meetings with HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş whose party has already announced that it will nominate its own presidential candidate, along with BBP leader Mustafa Destici, DSP leader Masum Türker and DP leader Gültekin Uysal.

“I am very happy, it was a very constructive meeting,” İhsanoğlu told reporters following his meeting with Destici, whose party received around two percent of the votes in the local elections.

“I explained to them the necessary qualifications that a president should have. I received a good understanding from them and they told me that they have a positive approach [towards my candidacy],” he added.

For his part, Destici described İhsanoğlu as one of the most valuable academics and statesmen Turkey has raised and underlined that the presidency would suit him perfectly. The BBP will make its final decision on who to support for the presidency next week, once all candidates have been registered.

İhsanoğlu received more open support from DSP leader Türker, whose party’s votes were less than one percent in March. “We will stand with Mr. İhsanoğlu in his candidacy once we have officially decided to back him,” Türker said.

Meanwhile, İdris Bal and Hami Yıldırım, independent lawmakers who resigned from the ruling AKP in the aftermath of the graft probe in late December, which involved the government and four former ministers, held a joint press conference where they publicly announced their support for İhsanoğlu.

Hakan Şükür and Erdal Kalkan, also former AKP deputies who resigned for the same reasons, are expected to voice their support for İhsanoğlu.