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Explainer: Turkey presidential election 2014

Turkish presidential candidates: Selahattin Demirtas

Selahattin Demirtaş
Selahattin Demirtaş Reuters/Files/Pawel Kopczynski

Selahattin Demirtas could be called the Gezi Park candidate in Turkey’s presidential election. A former human rights campaigner, his constituency is among the Kurdish minority and left-wing opponents of Erdogan who reject the authoritarian nationalism of the Kemalists.

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Party: People’s Democratic Party (HDP)
Age: 41

Born in Diyarbakir, the largest city in the Kurdish-majority south-east, Demirtas, who speaks the minority Zazaki language as well as Turkish and Kurdish, has to leave one university because of his political

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activities, finally going to the Ankara University Law Faculty.

Returning to Diyarbakir, he worked as a lawyer and joined the widely respected Human Rights Association (IHD), which exposed atrocities in the dirty war against the separatist Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK).

He joined the left-wing Democratic Society Party (DTP), which campaigns for Kurdish rights, in 2007, was elected an MP and became the leader of the party’s parliamentary group.

When the DTP was banned in 2009, Demirtas and the other DTP MPs helped form the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and was elected one of its twoco-chairs.

In 2011 he was reelected to parliament.

In 2014 the BDP formed an alliance with other left-wing groups to form the People’s Democratic Party (HDP).

Having been a vocal supporter of last year’s Gezi Park protests, he has the support of 10 left-wing parties.

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