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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Turkish opposition parties form alliance before June 24 vote

Backdropped by posters of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, center left, founder of modern Turkey, and current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center right, hang from a restoration wall on the Yeni Cami (New Mosque) as people walk at the Spice Bazaar Plaza in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, May 5, 2018. (Lefteris Pitarakis / Associated Press)
By Zeynep Bilginsoy Associated Press

ISTANBUL – Four opposition parties in Turkey announced a political alliance Saturday ahead of the country’s June 24 national election, aiming to mount a meaningful challenge to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party.

Lawmaker Bulent Tezcan of the main opposition Republican People’s Party announced the “nation alliance.” His secular party is joining forces with the newly-founded nationalist Good Party, the Islamic-leaning Felicity Party and the center-right Democrat Party in a bid to weaken the ruling party’s 16-year dominance in parliament.

The parties have nominated their own presidential candidates to run against Erdogan but will run as an alliance for the parliamentary election, which is scheduled for the same day.

The presidential and parliamentary elections were scheduled for November 2019 but were moved up by more than a year. The vote will usher in a new system of governance, which was narrowly approved in a referendum last year. The executive presidency will abolish the office of the prime minister and concentrate more powers in the hands of the president.

Tezcan said parliamentary candidates from the Democrat Party would run under the Good Party. The small party has also announced that it would support Good Party leader and presidential candidate Meral Aksener, a former interior minister.

The alliance statement said it brings together “different lifestyles and political opinions” under democratic principles for peace and stability in Turkey.

But the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party –the second largest opposition party in parliament– has been kept out of the alliance amid heightened Turkish nationalism. Its two former leaders, seven other legislators and nearly 4,700 members are in jail fighting terror charges.

The ruling Justice and Development Party has its own alliance with the Nationalist Movement Party, which was once an opposition party, to jointly endorse Erdogan for the presidency and run together for parliament.

That alliance is supported by the far-right Islamic-leaning Great Unity Party, whose candidates will run under the ruling party’s ticket.