Intimidating voters, Erdoğan threatens to reverse local election results -VoA

A warning by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to remove victorious pro-Kurdish mayoral candidates deemed sympathetic to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the March 31 local elections, is being interpreted as an attempt at voter intimidation,  U.S.-government funded news outlet Voice of America reported.

Turkey’s strongman issued the stark threat to voters in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeast this week, when he said ,"If you happen to send the opportunities provided by the state to Qandil [where PKK leaders are based in neighbouring northern Iraq], we will once again, immediately and without waiting any further, appoint our trustees."

Turkey's second-largest opposition party, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is accused of being the political wing of the PKK, an armed group that has been in war in Turkey for over 30 years.

The HDP, whose over 80 mayors have been removed from office and jailed, denies the charge.

HDP leadership has responded to Erdoğan’s warning by saying the removal of any successful HDP candidates reinforces the dictatorship of the Turkish president, VoA said.

The HDP claims any alleged transgressions by its candidates during campaigning is an issue to be addressed by the Turkish judiciary, rather than the president.

"This is a kind of a threat to Kurdish voters: If you want to have peace and tranquillity in the region, you have to elect my candidates. If you vote for the opposition, I will sack the mayors. I am going to lead you like sheep," said Kurkcu. "But after all these huge struggles for democracy, I do not see honorable Kurds or honourable citizens who will accept this threat. Instead, it provokes anger and rebellion," it quoted  Ertuğrul Kürkçü, the honorary president of the HDP as saying.

Analyst Atilla Yeşilada of Global Source Partners believes the HDP "will sweep all Kurdish-majority cities and towns despite massive intimidation and black propaganda."

Meanwhile, Erdoğan’s state-appointed trustees known as ‘kayyim’ administer nearly all towns and cities in the country’s Kurdish-majority southeast, the article said, with many cultural reforms encouraging a roll back on the Kurdish language, including the use of Kurdish on official signs.

Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been deepening its relationship with Turkey's hard-line Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) since the collapse of the 2015 peace process with the PKK and the general election that followed.

The HDP, for is part, is determined to make Erdoğan pay a heavy electoral price, Voice of America said, highlighting the frustration of the Kurdish electorate over the last few years.

The surprise move by the HDP to not list candidates in seven major cities in Western Turkey could prove decisive, the article stressed, ‘’with opinion polls indicating the opposition ahead in many of Turkey's main cities and Istanbul too close to call.’’