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For Turkey’s runoff, potential kingmaker draws a red line at concessions to the Kurds


ANKARA, May 15 (Reuters) – Sinan Ogan, Turkey’s nationalist presidential candidate who finished third in Sunday’s election, said he could support main opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the runoff only if he agrees to make no concessions to a pro-Kurdish party .

Ogan won 5.2% in Sunday’s first round of the presidential election, emerging as a potential kingmaker after the May 28 vote. President Tayyip Erdogan, who led with 49.5% of the vote on Sunday, and Kilicdaroglu, who won around 45%, will participate in the runoff.

“We will consult our voter base for our decision in the run-off. But we have already made it clear that the fight against terrorism and sending refugees back are our red lines,” said Ogan, who took 5.2% of the initial vote , to Reuters in an interview on Monday.

Ogan, 55, a former academic, ran in the first round of the presidential election as a candidate for the ATA, an alliance of Turkish ultra-nationalist parties led by the Victory Party, which is known for its anti-immigrant stance.

Ogan said his aim was to remove two mainly Kurdish parties from Turkey’s “political equation” and strengthen Turkish nationalists and secularists.

“And the election results showed that we succeeded in this,” he said.

The pro-Kurdish HDP has supported Kilicdaroglu in the presidential election, while the Kurdish-Islamist Huda-Par is backing Erdogan.

Ogan said he had yet to meet Erdogan or Kilicdaroglu since Sunday’s vote, but signaled he would be open to talks “based on their principles”.

“For example, we could sign a protocol with the Nation Alliance (to endorse Kilicdaroglu) to make it clear that they would not make any concessions to the HDP. It’s that simple,” he said.

Ogan entered parliament in 2011 with the Turkish nationalist MHP. He launched an unsuccessful bid for the MHP leadership in 2015 and was later expelled from the party.

Ogan said Sunday’s election results showed that Turkey’s main opposition has been unable to garner enough public support despite massive earthquakes that struck southeastern Turkey in February.

“The voters sent a message that they don’t trust the opposition enough, but they assigned us the role of balancing power on the ruling party,” he said.

Reporting by Orhan Coskun and Birsen Altayli; Author: Huseyin Hayatsever; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Gareth Jones

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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