Erdogan Ally Bahceli Isn't Troubled by Ocalan Contacting Lawyers

(Bloomberg) -- Turkish nationalist leader Devlet Bahceli said he isn’t perturbed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government allowing Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned head of the PKK militant group, to make contact with his lawyers.

The move isn’t a prelude to a new peace process, Bahceli told a group of journalists at a dinner on Friday, according to state news agency Anadolu.

“If you ask me, I would say: let him meet with his lawyers," he’s cited as saying.

Ocalan’s sudden emergence in Turkey’s election mayhem isn’t a coincidence, according to some observers, who see it as a ploy by Erdogan to woo Kurdish voters in the event of a tight contest in the rerun in Istanbul on June 23.

Ocalan urged guerrillas to “keep in mind Turkey’s sensibilities” in northern Syria in a letter purportedly written by himself earlier in May. Any attempt by Erdogan to galvanize Kurdish votes could open cracks in his alliance with Turkey’s nationalists.

Bahceli said it would be wrong to regard the government’s move as a way to secure HDP votes, referring to the pro-Kurdish HDP party. “It’s just about a longtime demand from his lawyers,” he said.

HDP supporters may play a crucial role in Istanbul’s mayoral election. More than 900,000 HDP voters are believed to have backed the opposition CHP candidate Ekrem Imamoglu in the original March 31 vote, news website Diken said, citing a report by the TEPAV think tank. The margin between Imamoglu and ruling AKP candidate Binali Yildirim was little more than 10,000 before the election board decided to hold the ballot again.

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