Turkey's Erdogan meets opposition leader for first time in 8 years

President Tayyip Erdogan held talks with the leader of Turkey's main opposition CHP party on Thursday, the first such meeting in nearly eight years, just one month after the CHP outperformed Erdogan's party in local elections.

Publication: 02.05.2024 - 17:15
Turkey's Erdogan meets opposition leader for first time in 8 years
Abone Ol google-news

The March 31 vote marked Erdogan and his AK Party's (AKP) worst defeat in more than 20 years in power. It revitalised the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) under new chief Ozgur Ozel, and strengthened Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu's standing as a strong future presidential contender.

Erdogan subsequently vowed to correct any mistakes that had led to his party's defeat, which analysts attributed mainly to voter frustration with economic woes, especially soaring inflation.

Ozel entered the AKP headquarters in Ankara just after 4 p.m. (1300 GMT). The talks were expected to focus on efforts to agree on a new constitution, economic developments and the situation in Gaza, according to state broadcaster TRT Haber.

Analysts viewed the local elections as having dented Erdogan's hopes of pushing through a new constitution, which could potentially extend his rule beyond 2028 when his term ends.

Parliament Speaker Numan Kurtulmus of the AKP is leading talks on an issue that looks likely to dominate domestic politics this year. While the AKP and its allies have a parliamentary majority, Erdogan would need broader support for a successful referendum on a new constitution.

Thursday's meeting was the first between Erdogan and a CHP leader since 2016, when he hosted then-chief Kemal Kilicdaroglu at the presidential palace after an attempted military coup on July 15 of that year.

The following month, Kilicdaroglu joined a huge rally staged by Erdogan in a further show of political unity - though their relations remained frosty through till Kilicdaroglu's failed presidential bid in last year's national election.

After 13 years with Kilicdaroglu at the CHP helm, Ozel became party leader last November amid a push for change in the secularist party, which had been dogged by in-fighting.

Ozel's agenda for the talks was focused on economic problems, notably state pensions and the medium wage, foreign policy, and coordination between the central government and municipalities, according to party sources.

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