Başak Demirtaş open to running for Istanbul mayorship if DEM Party sees fit

Başak Demirtaş, wife of imprisoned Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş, on Jan. 21 stated that she would be willing to run as a mayoral candidate for Istanbul should DEM Party decide to field her.

Duvar English

Başak Demirtaş, wife of imprisoned Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş, on Jan. 21 stated that she was open to becoming the Peoples’ Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party’s Istanbul mayoral candidate should the people and the party decide to field her, during an interview with the online news platform Artı Gerçek

Demirtaş added that the party has not yet made an offer to her for the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. “Should the public request it, if the party sees fit, and if we believe that my candidacy would open the road to democracy and public peace, I would consider it,” said Demirtaş.

She added that DEM Party would field a candidate in Istanbul to “win,” rather than to support or weaken some other candidate. DEM Party co-chair Tuncer Bakırhan had similarly held that the party would not sacrifice the will of its constituents in the upcoming local elections to ensure the defeat of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). 

It has been long discussed whether DEM Party would field candidates in major cities currently run by opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) mayors. Başak Demirtaş's name has circulated as a potential candidate for the party. Opposition figures hold that a DEM Party candidate will split the vote and jeopardize losing the valuable posts to AKP.  

So far, current mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu of CHP and former Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum of AKP have declared their candidacies for Istanbul in the local elections on March 31.

Başak Demirtaş is a beloved figure among pro-Kurdish circles and plays an active role in advocating for Selahattin Demirtaş’s release. Selahattin Demirtaş is the former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democracy and Equality Party (HDP), which later became the DEM Party. He has been imprisoned since November 2016 along with co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ facing hundreds of years in prison on charges related to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on June 2023 ruled that Turkey violated the European Convention on Human Rights Article 5, Clause 4 (right to a speedy review of the lawfulness of detention) in its imprisonment of the HDP co-chairs pending trial.