CHP mayoral candidate vows opening doors to all political parties except pro-Kurdish DEM

Turkey’s main opposition CHP’s Afyonkarahisar mayoral candidate Burcu Köksal stated at a rally attended by the party’s Chair Özgür Özel, "If I am elected, the municipality’s door would be open to all political parties except for the DEM Party."

CHP’s Afyonkarahisar mayoral candidate Burcu Köksal and party chair Özgür Özel attend a rally in the province.

Duvar English

Burcu Köksal, the mayoral candidate of the Republican People's Party (CHP) for western Afyonkarahisar province, said that if elected, the doors of the municipality would be open to "every political party except the Peoples' Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party.”

DEM is Turkey’s third-biggest political party in the parliament and has been heavily criminalized by the Turkish government for years.

Speaking before the opening of the Afyonkarahisar Election Coordination Center on March 6, which was also attended by CHP Chair Özgür Özel, Köksal continued by saying "Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) candidate cannot say this, they can only make a fuss and negotiate (with them) behind closed doors."

The government controlled by the ruling AKP has appointed trustees to the municipalities won by the pro-Kurdish DEM Party and arrested hundreds of its members after the 2019 local elections. The government officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, still attack DEM in nearly every speech he gives.

DEM Party Ağrı lawmaker Sırrı Sakık responded to Köksal on his social media account and criticized those who called him a “micro nationalist” because he said, "We are not obliged to make any party win.”

"I addressed the Kurds, you should form your own alliance as everyone is allying against you. So what we should called this (attitude)? In our municipalities, our doors are open to everyone except fascists and racists,” Sakık underscored.

Commenting on Köksal's statements, CHP chair Özel said at a rally in Uşak province, "There was a slip of the tongue. The doors of both Afyon Municipality and Uşak Municipality are open to everyone."

Despite the 2019 local elections, the DEM Party fielded mayoral candidates in most of the provinces in the upcoming local elections on March 31. Even though the pro-Kurdish Party was not part of an alliance with the CHP in the previous elections, it did not field candidates in constituencies where the CHP had a higher chance of winning including Istanbul.

DEM’s stance has shifted particularly after the general elections in 2023 and criticized CHP for taking advantage of its previous stance.