When Selahattin Demirtaş shrugged off the formal traditions of Turkish political campaigning and went on a television talk show equipped with a saz, a Turkish folk guitar, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sensed an opportunity to land a blow. The co-leader of the Peoples’ Democratic party (HDP), sniffed the Turkish president, was a mere “pop star”. But, far from hurting Demirtaş, the remark merely served to highlight Erdoğan’s fear of the 42-year-old’s youthful, telegenic appeal and sense of humour. His musical performance was just one of the ways in which Demirtaş – the man who has done more than anyone to thwart Erdoğan’s aspirations to build an all-powerful presidency – achieved electoral breakthrough by thumbing his nose at political convention. In Sunday’s parliamentary elections, the HDP broadened beyond its Kurdish roots, to become a liberal umbrella group with particular appeal to women, gay men and lesbians, anxious about Erdoğan’s growing power and deepening conservatism. In May, Demirtaş invited the television cameras into his home, where he made a leisurely Turkish breakfast for his wife, Başak, and their two daughters. “Breakfast is the only time we truly enjoy each other’s company,” he said. “After that everyone goes to either school or work.” Born… Read full this story
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