Peoples’ Candidate for Change: Selahattin Demirtaş

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HDP held a press conference at Neva Palas Hotel in Ankara to announce its Presidential Candidate. The banner “Peoples’ Candidate for Change: Selahattin Demirtaş” welcomed the members of the press. HDP MPs Ibrahim Binici, Demir Celik, Faysal Sariyildiz, Pervin Buldan, Idris Baluken, Hasip Kaplan, Gulser Yildirim, Halil Aksoy, Mulkiye Birtane, Erol Dora, Adil Kurt, Sebahat Tuncel, Sirri Sureyya Onder, Altan Tan, Husamettin Zenderlioglu, DTK Co-Chair Aysel Tugluk, independent Van MP Kemal Aktas, Mardin Co-Mayor Ahmet Turk, KESK Chair Lami Ozgen and Human Rights Association Chair Ozturk Turkdogan were present at the conference.

Gencay Gursoy took the stage primarily and pointed out that the upcoming Presidential Election is a historic one indeed and announced that HDP’s presidential candidate will be Selahattin Demirtaş.

Demirtaş took the stage following Gursoy’s introduction. The candidate began his speech by thanking his colleagues and underlining how honoured he feels. Demirtaş outlined that it will be the representation of a set of ideals and principals that will run as part of his campaign for presidency, not solely himself.

Demirtaş stressed that he still is the person who he was when he started politics and stated that: “We need to show that the side which favors the people have won to prove our case.” His speech further pointed out that there while be two different set of principals that will go against each other during the elections: one side for freedom and peace and the other for statism and conservatism. Demirtaş claims that the two other candidates represent the latter.

His following remarks highlighted the fact that there are no women candidates for presidency which also is the biggest setback for HDP’s campaign. Demirtaş stated that: “However our policies represent women’s liberation movement in our struggle today. Eventhough the candidate himself is not a women, our campaign will be shaped by women and the youth.”

According to Demirtaş, HDP aims to keep the race within the lines of a democratic discussion that will strengthen the notion of politics in Turkey. HDP hopes that the opposing actions will follow a similar approach. Demirtaş followed up his statement with the following: “This candidacy does not favour any personal will for power or political gain. HDP aims to end the serious and scary statist persona in place. We hope to show everyone that the state can be ruled in a cheerful and democratic manner too. Throughout our campaign, we aim to put an end to the illusion of a hypocritical democracy that exists in Turkey. Our struggle is to transform the Presidency to serve the needs of the people.”

Demirtaş furthermore offered his comments on the latest developments in the Middle East: “The race for Presidency cannot be perceived independently from the situation in the Middle East either. HDP will refuse to become part of the sectarian conflict that has been sparked by the government-led religious alignments in the region. HDP will refuse any anti-secular approach that aims to take root in the region and continue to defend its democratic secularism principle. It is our utmost duty to struggle for freedom, justice and human rights against those who use religious sentiments as form of their hypocritical propaganda.”

Demirtaş also underlined HDP’s efforts to bring together a united coalition for the presidential campaign and expressed that he is willing to work together with all who supports HDP’s principals and ideals.

Demirtaş acknowledges that it will not be the biggest corporations and the state ideology that will back his candidacy for the elections. The candidate expressed his formula to pave the way for peoples’ democratic government: “I believe that we have a lot to learn from previous experiences and the democratic struggles in Turkey. We will amass the legacy of the struggles that started with Harun Karadeniz and was passed on to Behice Boran, and the history of resistance starting from 15-16 June to Gezi during our campaign. We hope to represent all who embody this outlook. We will carry the flag up high that was passed on from the 69’s to Ape Musa and then to Hrant Dink. We will show who the people are to those who have no respect for the will of the people. Some might be dreaming of Presidency already but we are determined to prove that it will not be that easy. We will remind them of the young worker who places his head against the bus window early in the morning to wonder about life. It is those young workers who produce in this country, therefore it should be them who rule it too.”

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