Leaders of six parties met to discuss their presidential candidate – widely expected 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 the presidential election, with a little more than two months to go before the vote in May.
The opposition, which said it will reveal the candidate on Monday, has failed in previous national votes to pose a serious challenge to Erdogan, who has been in power for two decades but who has seen his popularity subside amid a cost-of-living crisis even before last month’s earthquakes that killed at least 45,000 people in Turkey.
Erdogan indicated on Wednesday that presidential and parliamentary elections would be held on May 14, sticking to a previous plan for the vote and undeterred by the earthquakes that were followed by criticism of his government’s response.
The leaders of the six opposition parties met on Thursday with the expectation that they would agree on a joint candidate, who was widely expected to be Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
“We have reached a common understanding concerning 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 brief their parties’ executive boards before meeting again on Monday “to share the final statement with the public”.
Media reports said party leaders largely voiced support for Kilicdaroglu, although they said there was still opposition to his candidacy within the IYI Party of Meral Aksener, the second-largest party in the alliance.
Ekrem Imamoglu and Mansur Yavas, the CHP mayors of Istanbul and Ankara respectively, have been mooted as candidates and polls have indicated they could perform better than Kilicdaroglu against Erdogan.
However, a CHP official, who declined to be named, said there was broad agreement on selecting Kilicdaroglu.
“We don’t expect any problems any more. This decision will be made by consensus. I don’t want to consider any other option,” he said.
Turkey’s 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 discord within the opposition alliance have raised doubts about its ability to capitalise on the erosion in Erdogan’s popularity shown by the opinion polls.