'DEM Party’s priority no longer defeat of ruling AKP,' says Co-chair Bakırhan

Pro-Kurdish DEM Party co-chair Tuncer Bakırhan stated on Dec. 29 that the party’s priority for the local elections was no longer for the ruling AKP to lose. He underscored that they no longer threw support for anyone stand against AKP as a response to a question regarding to Ankara and Istanbul elections.

Duvar English

Tuncer Bakırhan, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party on Dec. 29 stated the party would abandon its “do not let the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) win” strategy for the upcoming local elections, during an interview with Deutsche Welle Turkish.  

The co-chair stated that they implemented an “urban consensus” system to determine candidates, who are not limited to DEM Party members and delegates. The party accepted candidacy applications from everyone as long as they agreed on basic principles.

Bakırhan denied allegations about DEM Party engaging in talks with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to secure mayor posts ahead of the local elections. “Our only close contact with the ruling party is in police stations, prisons, and detentions. We are completely against bargaining for our will,” he underscored.  

When asked about whether DEM Party would field candidates in the metropolitan Istanbul and Ankara provinces or support the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Bakırhan answered “We are abandoning the old strategy of voting for whoever stood against the ruling party.” 

The DEM Party co-chair described their ideal mayoral candidate as someone who is not misogynist, xenophobic, racist, or monistic. “We would like the candidate to present a practice, a discourse, an action suitable for this country’s mosaic,” added Bakırhan. 

He continued that the old strategy was necessary to teach a lesson to the obstinate AKP, however, today’s conditions were different. “Today the workers, the poor, the Alevis, the women want to run the cities they live in,” said Bakırhan.

He added that DEM Party could not be held responsible for the failures of the main opposition CHP, should the ruling AKP win the major provinces. 

Bakırhan griped that opposition parties left DEM Party alone when their headquarters were attacked in broad daylight, or when they were insulted in the parliament. “But when it comes to elections, all we hear is ‘Do not let the opposition lose,’” he added. 

“An opposition similar to the ruling AKP is of no use to this country,” said Bakırhan and added that DEM Party would not be restricted to take sides when “two similar municipality mindsets are competing with each other.”  

DEM Party has not yet declared its candidates for the local elections that will take place on March 31, 2024. CHP candidates for the metropolitan Istanbul and Ankara provinces are the presiding mayors Ekrem İmamoğlu and Mansur Yavaş whose victory in the 2019 elections ended an era of AKP administration in the two provinces.