Turkey: Ultranationalist leader supports Kemal Kilicdaroglu in race for the presidency

Leader of Turkey’s ultranationalist Victory party Umit Ozdag extended his support to opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu, a step which he took against the party’s former presidential hopeful Sinan Ogan who was endorsing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ozdag held a joint press conference with Kilicdaroglu, in which he declared that the leaders have signed a memorandum of understanding which includes assurance to deport all refugees in Turkey in a year after coming to power. 

The leaders also agreed that the democratically elected Kurdish mayors will not be reinstated in Turkey’s south-east who were earlier replaced as part of a crackdown by the state on the leftwing leaders and especially those belonging to the Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), which was a swipe at the Kurdish support which buoyed Kilicdaroglu through the first round.

“We reached a consensus with him. As the Victory party, we decided to support Kilicdaroglu in the second round,” he stated.

The split endorsement came days before Kilicdaroglu and Erdogan are likely to face a runoff round in the presidential elections on May 28. Erdogan received more than 49.5 per cent of the vote in the first round, ahead of Kilicdaroglu ‘s 44.5 per cent.

Ogan, who fought elections on a far-right explicitly anti-refugee platform, received just more than 5 per cent of the vote in the first phase and announced his support for Erdogan this week.

WATCH | Turkey Elections: The final twist in the tale is yet to come – Who will Sinan Ogan support? | WION

“We believe that our decision will be the right decision for our country and nation,” he stated. “I declare that we will support Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the candidate of the People’s Alliance, in the second round of the elections,” he added. 

Ogan was backed by the Victory party but at the time the statement issued by the leader did not represent the views of the party.

Throughout his campaign, Kilicdaroglu has stated that he would expel all refugees “within two years” of coming to power in Turkey. Speaking to the Guardian about if he intended to square the promise with the desire to become part of the European Union, Kilicdaroglu replied, “We do not think of this as racism. When we come to power, we will sit and talk with the legitimate administration in Syria and find a solution to this problem.”

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