Turkey Elections: Opposition Candidate Campaigns from Prison

Selahattin Demirtaş, the Presidential candidate for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey, used a 10-minute phone call he is allowed to his wife, to broadcast his election speech.

Turkey will be going into polls after a snap election was called a year earlier than expected.

The charismatic former co-chair of HDP in his speech, argued that despite being in prison, there are thousands who can identify with him in Turkey. He claimed he’s being held as a political hostage, claims which were denied by the Turkish government.

In his speech Demirtaş made reference to the breakdown of the rule of law in Turkey and argued that the country has been turned into a semi-open prison where the citizens are victims of injustice.

However, he argued that a change is possible and the country will be able to heal itself from polarisation and the division it has been experiencing in the past years.

Demirtaş, 45, is a human rights lawyer by profession. Together with Figen Yüksekdağ he was co-chairing the HDP.

His arrest came after he was stripped off his parliamentary immunity. There are 20 other cases against him and he is currently being kept in prison pending his trial, where he stands accused of leading a terrorist organisation, making use of terrorist propaganda and inciting enmity through his calls for protests. In addition to this, 8 other HDP parliamentarians, were stripped off their parliamentary immunity and imprisoned pending their trial. 4,700 members of the HDP have also been jailed.

“AFP PHOTO / HDP”

Demirtaş is facing up to 142 years imprisonment.

Turkey is facing a snap election which will see both a presidential and a parliamentary election taking place. A second round for the presidential election will be held on 8th July, if no one secures 50% of the vote in the first round.

After these elections, Turkey will adopt a new presidential system with executive powers which was voted upon in the referendum which took place in April 2017.