Far-right Özdağ demands CHP leader Özel to deem Sheikh Said ‘traitor’ for local election alliance

Far-right Victory Party (ZP) leader Ümit Özdağ has demanded main opposition CHP leader Özgür Özel to deem Sheikh Said “traitor” to form an alliance for the upcoming local elections. Özdağ also demanded the CHP to not collaborate with the pro-Kurdish DEM Party.

Duvar English

Far-right anti-immigrant Victory Party (ZP) leader Ümit Özdağ on Dec. 20 announced his conditions to form an alliance with the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) for the local elections to be held on March 31, 2024.

Speaking in a press conference in the northern Trabzon province, Özdağ said “We may have a collaboration with the CHP. For this, we need to sign a protocol with (CHP leader) Özgür Özel.”

As part of this collaboration, Özdağ demanded CHP leader Özgür Özel to deem Sheikh Said “traitor,” who is a controversial Kurdish figure of the early Republican period.

He also demanded the CHP to declare the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party “a terrorism-related party” and to not collaborate with the DEM Party.

“We would like to have it written in the protocol that (the CHP) is loyal to the national, unitary, secular state principles determined by the 1924 Constitution. We do not want this protocol to be secret,” he added.

He also said their local election alliance offer to the right-wing İYİ (Good) Party “will not continue forever.” Özdağ founded the VP in 2021 after leaving the İYİ Party.

His party received 2.23 percent of the votes in the 2023 general elections and could not pass the seven percent threshold to be in the Parliament.

CHP leader Özel previously visited the DEM Party to discuss the upcoming local elections. A collaboration between the two parties might be crucial for the CHP to win the Istanbul and Ankara municipalities again.

Sheikh Said

The trustee mayor of southeastern Diyarbakır province naming a street after Sheikh Said led to a new row between the government and the opposition in Turkey this month.

Sheikh Said was executed in 1925 after facing a trial in the Independence Tribunal for leading a Kurdish nationalist rebellion against the newly founded Republic.

Regarding Sheikh Said, Özel said “If the pain caused during the suppression of this rebellion hurts some descendants today, that pain must be respected. But, we need to learn from history. If the founding cadres of the Republic experienced some discomforts and sorrows in a place where there were no communication facilities like today, where it was not possible to follow orders, it is not the place of anyone to attribute this to (Mustafa Kemal) Atatürk and to put it on the back of the CHP as a burden.”

Özdağ and Kılıçdaroğlu

In the second round of the presidential elections in May, Özdağ announced his support for the main opposition bloc’s candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, former CHP leader. 

Özdağ later revealed that his party was confidentially promised to have three ministries and the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) if Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu assumed power.

The protocol between them angered especially the Kurdish opposition voters as Özdağ was known for his anti-pro-Kurdish party stance. Moreover, one of the clauses of the protocol assured the continuation of the practice of appointing trustee mayors instead of those “whose links with terrorism are proven by legal evidence.”

Following the presidential electoral defeat, Kılıçdaroğlu lost the CHP party congress to Özgür Özel in November.