Leaders from six parties gathered to discuss their presidential candidate – widely believed to be the CHP’s Kilicdaroglu.
Turkey’s six-party opposition alliance has said it will announce its joint candidate next week to challenge President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in presidential elections, with just over two months to go until the May vote.
The opposition, which said it would unveil the candidate on Monday, has failed in previous national votes to seriously challenge Erdogan, who has been in power for two decades but who has seen his popularity wane amid a crisis in the cost of living. even before last month’s earthquakes that killed at least 45,000 people in Turkey.
Erdogan signaled on Wednesday that presidential and parliamentary elections will be held on May 14, sticking to an earlier plan for the vote and undeterred by the earthquakes followed by criticism of his government’s response.
Leaders of the six opposition parties met on Thursday in the expectation of agreeing on a joint candidate, widely expected to be Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
“We have agreed on our joint presidential candidate for the 13th presidential election and the roadmap for the transition process,” the alliance said.
The statement, signed by all six party leaders, said they would inform their parties’ executives before meeting again on Monday “to share the final statement with the public”.
According to media reports, party leaders largely expressed support for Kilicdaroglu, though they said there was still opposition to his candidacy within Meral Aksener’s IYI party, the second largest party in the alliance.
Ekrem Imamoglu and Mansur Yavas, the CHP mayors of Istanbul and Ankara respectively, have been named as candidates and polls have shown they could outperform Kilicdaroglu against Erdogan.
However, a CHP official, who declined to be named, said there was broad agreement on the choice of Kilicdaroglu.
“We don’t expect any more problems. This decision will be taken by consensus. I don’t want to consider any other option,” he said.
The Turkish opposition has cooperated more closely since its success in taking control of major municipalities, including Istanbul and Ankara, from Erdogan’s AK Party in the 2019 local elections.
But reports of dissension within the opposition alliance have cast doubts on its ability to profit from the erosion of Erdogan’s popularity shown by the polls.