DEM Party names jailed Kışanak as Ankara mayoral candidate

Turkey’s opposition DEM Party has named jailed Kurdish politician Gültan Kışanak and Öztürk Türkdoğan as its Ankara co-mayoral candidates.

Duvar English

Turkey’s opposition Peoples’ Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party on Feb. 17 named jailed Kurdish politician Gültan Kışanak as one of its Ankara co-mayoral candidates for the local election to be held on March 31.

In a press statement held at the party headquarters in the capital Ankara, DEM Party Spokesperson Ayşegül Doğan said they were fielding Gültan Kışanak and Öztürk Türkdoğan as their Ankara co-mayoral candidates.

“According to the 2019 local elections, the female representation rate in local governments is only three percent. However, one of the basic conditions of democracy is equal representation,” Doğan said and added that this figure would be much lower if they did not have co-mayor policy. 

As a policy, the party fields one man and one woman candidates for each municipality.

Doğan also said they reached an agreement with some of the opposition parties for Mersin province and Akdeniz and Esenyurt district, without explicitly mentioning any party names. 

"It is necessary to discuss and talk about our problems, especially the Kurdish problem and the women's liberation problem, at the source, in Ankara. We are setting out to build bridges of social peace from Diyarbakır to Ankara and from Ankara to all four corners of Turkey. I invite you, everyone who believes in peace, democracy and freedom, to take the initiative in this struggle and wish you success in advance," Kışanak said in a letter from jail.

The party previously named Meral Danış Beştaş and Murat Çepni as their co-mayoral candidates for the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.

The party’s predecessor, Green Left Party (YSP), received 2.94 percent of the votes in Ankara in the 2023 general elections. The HDP, another predecessor of the DEM, and the İYİ Party did not field any candidates in the 2019 local elections in Ankara, paving the way for the main opposition CHP victory.

The race in Ankara is expected to be neck and neck between Mayor Mansur Yavaş, from the CHP, and the ruling AKP's candidate Turgut Altınok.

Former co-mayor of the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, Gültan Kışanak, who has been in jail since her arrest in 2016, was sentenced in February 2019 to 14 years and three months in prison on charges of “being a member of” and “making propaganda” of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

However, an appeals court overturned the verdict in the same year, citing lack of procedure and principles during Kışanak’s trial, opening way for the retrial of her.