3 out of 4 citizens oppose govt-appointed mayors in Turkey's south-east - pollster

A report by Diyarbakır-based Polling company Rawest, known for their opinion polls in Kurdish-majority provinces, found that 76.4 per cent of citizens were against the government-appointed trustees to run municipalities of three major cities in eastern and south-eastern Turkey.

Mayors of Kurdish-majority Van, Diyarbakır and Mardin provinces from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) had been ousted by Turkey’s interior ministry in August. A poll by Rawest found that 81 per cent of Diyarbakır’s residents think the trustee appointments were wrong, followed by 70 per cent each in Mardin and Van.

The poll was ran between August 26 and 30 with 1,536 citizens asked what they thought about the mayors’ removal from office and the appointment of trustees in their stead.

Results show that voters of the conservative-Islamist Kurdish Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR) were more aligned with HDP voters than the ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP), according to Rawest.

The number of citizens who disagree with the AKP’s trustee appointments rise as urbanisation and income increase. 

The poll also found that citizens who don’t identify as Kurdish in Mardin and Van, i.e. Arabs and Turks respectively, think the trustee appointments were justified in bigger numbers than citizens self-identifying as Kurdish in these provinces who voted for the AKP. 

“This shows that even if they voted for the same parties, the Turk- and Arab-identified citizens in the region show different emotional and political reflexes than Kurdish-identified citizens regarding developments on the Kurdish issue,” said Rawest.

In all three provinces, the ratio of citizens who think the trustee appointments were wrong was found to be close to the percentage of votes won by the HDP in the June 7, 2015 general elections, according to the pollster.

In the March 2019 local elections, HDP’s Bedia Özgökçe Ertan won 53.83 of the votes in Van, while Ahmet Türk won 56.24 per cent in Mardin and Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı 62.93 per cent in Diyarbakır.

Turkey’s President Erdoğan had hinted before the elections that HDP’s mayors could be removed from office were they elected.

The governor of Diyarbakır, who was appointed as trustee of the province by the government, had submitted an official request for the removal of Mayor Mızraklı one day after the elections.

President Erdoğan has since hinted that more mayors could face terrorism charges and be dismissed.