Far-right leader Özdağ declares support for Kılıçdaroğlu in presidential race

Known for strict anti-refugee stance, far-right Victory Party (ZP) leader Ümit Özdağ has announced his support for the main opposition bloc’s candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in the second round of the presidential race against Erdoğan after signing a protocol. ZP’s presidential candidate Sinan Oğan previously declared support for Erdoğan.

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (L) and Ümit Özdağ (R) during the press conference on May 24

Duvar English

Turkish far-right Victory Party (ZP) leader Ümit Özdağ on May 24 declared support for main opposition bloc Nation Alliance’s presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in the second round of the presidential election.

Ultra-nationalist Özdağ announced his support in a press conference together with Kılıçdaroğlu in front of the ZP headquarters in the capital Ankara.

Kılıçdaroğlu said in the press conference that “For the future of Turkey, every party, every party chair has a responsibility. Thank you to (Özdağ) and his colleagues. We will take steps to bring peace to Turkey. 'Together we will win'.”

Photo: CHP

Speaking after Kılıçdaroğlu, Özdağ said Turkey’s biggest problem is “the return of 13 million refugees and fugitives.”

“It is not possible for Turkey to overcome its economic problems without sending 13 million (refugees) back to their homeland and preventing the arrival of new ones. We can't stop rents from rising, we can't secure the streets, we can't find jobs for our children,” Özdağ said.

“We agreed with Kılıçdaroğlu on a model proposed by the Victory Party, which would ensure the safety of Syrians returning in accordance with international law to Syria within a year, but would also remove the great burden on the Turkish economy. As the Victory Party, we decided to support Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu in the second round. If you want Turkey to remain Turkey, if you don't want it to become an immigration land, if you want to send your children to streets safely, support Kılıçdaroğlu on 28 May,” he lastly added.

The ATA (Ancestral) Alliance’s presidential candidate Sinan Oğan, in which the ZP was the main component, decided to support President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The ZP received 2.13% of the votes in the May 14 parliamentary elections, but was unable to garner seats due to the 7% electoral threshold.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan officially received 49.52% of the votes, whereas Kılıçdaroğlu received 44.88%, Sinan Oğan received 5.17%, and Muharrem İnce (withdrawn before the election) received 0.43% in the first round of presidential elections on May 14. Turkey will hold a run-off election on May 28.

The Protocol

Two leaders, Özdağ and Kılıçdaroğlu, signed a seven-point protocol. The protocol reads as follows:

  1. The first four articles of our Constitution and the definition and content of Turkish Citizenship in Article 66 will be preserved.
  2. The national-unitary-secular state established in 1924 will never be compromised.
  3. All asylum seekers and fugitives, especially Syrians, will be sent back to their countries within one year at the latest.
  4. All terrorist organizations targeting the existence and integrity of the state, especially FETÖ, PKK and ISIS, will be fought effectively and decisively. Within the framework of the fight against terrorism, the practice of appointing state officials instead of local administrators whose links with terrorism are proven by legal evidence will continue within the framework of judicial decision. Terrorism will be fought, not negotiated. No political and legal arrangements targeting the national and unitary state structure of Turkey will be allowed.
  5. In assignments to be made in all units of the state, it will be ensured that merit, not loyalty, is the basis.
  6. All corruption will be dealt with very effectively within the framework of the law.
  7. It is fully agreed that the state should be transparent and open to its citizens.

There were some reports that the ZP was offered Interior and Culture ministries. However, CHP Press Advisor Ömer Topsakal denied the rumors and said Özdağ was not offered any seats. 

However, before the announcement, Özdağ said on Twitter that "Promise, I will send (refugees) as the Interior Minister."

Speaking on the protocol, Kılıçdaroğlu’s ally and Good (İYİ) Party leader Meral Akşener said “There is nothing in that protocol that bothers us.” Özdağ founded the ZP in 2021 after leaving the İYİ Party.

Trustee Mayors

The fourth article in the protocol, which read “the practice of appointing state officials instead of local administrators whose links with terrorism are proven by legal evidence will continue within the framework of judicial decision” created some concerns especially among Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) voters and raised the question of whether they will boycott the election. Some regarded the article as the continuation of the practice of appointing trustee mayors to replace HDP mayors.

HDP Istanbul provincial branch co-chair Ferhat Encü told Gazete Duvar that they will not be boycotting the election and said “We will again vote in favor of democracy, freedom and change.”

HDP's former co-chair Sezai Temelli said "There is no boycott! We will go to the ballot box, we will destroy fascism, we will change the government. The power that will destroy fascism will prevail any protocol written against us."

The Green Left Party (YSP) on Twitter said "As HDP and Green Left Party Central Executive Committees, we are meeting to evaluate the latest situation and to explain our stance to the public. We will make a written statement after the meeting."

The YSP is the back-up party of the HDP over the latter's closure risk.