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Turkey’s main opposition party names its presidential candidate

17 June 2014

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu officially announced on 16th June that a senior diplomat would be announced as a joint candidate with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), in a move they have named “The Grand Conciliation”, Turkish daily ‘Hurriyet’ reports.

“We are proposing a name who will be accepted by everybody and who will set a model for everybody with his reputation, honesty, knowledge and experience: Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu,” Kılıçdaroğlu (r) told reporters as he made a joint statement with MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli (l) following their meeting at Parliament.

In a pointed comment Kılıçdaroğlu added, “Let me express that we have been experiencing a new case in democracy. We want to start a process that favours peace and serenity and that keeps distant from strife.”

The MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli described the choice of İhsanoğlu’s as a presidential candidate as “a fortunate step,” suggesting that their efforts for nominating a joint candidate should be considered as “a move beyond political parties.” The MHP leader was apparently referring to his and Kılıçdaroğlu’s consultations with civil society organisations and representatives of various segments of society before making a decision on a candidate.

“By becoming united on this name, the MHP is willing to finalise this election without allowing any chaos and having our democracy strengthened,” Bahçeli said, pledging his party’s strong efforts to have İhsanoğlu elected to the presidency.

Kılıçdaroğlu had already told reporters on 15th June that he would propose a particular individual during his meeting with Bahçeli, and it is widely considered that the CHP would not have floated the idea of nominating İhsanoğlu without previously gaining the MHP’s agreement to the idea.

The ruling style of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the AKP’s potential candidate, who is widely described as being increasingly authoritarian and a divisive force in the country, is thought to be worrying and not only for voters with secular sensitivities.

Erdoğan who has for a long time eyed the post of president has indicated that he would use presidential powers to their fullest extent and has already attempted unsuccessfully to push through legislation that would enhance the powers of the presidency which currently are less than that of the prime minister.

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