Appointed mayors have no significant effect on votes in southeast Turkey - pollster

Some 58.1 percent of voters in Turkey living in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern provinces said the government’s decision to dismiss elected mayors and to appoint bureaucrats in their places had not affected their voting preferences, Diken news website reported.

Following military operations in southeastern cities in 2015, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) dismissed 95 mayors elected from the pro-Kurdish opposition People’s Democratic Party (HDP) over what it said was their to terrorism. The government appointed administrators to take their place.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said last month the government might do the same if what he called terror-related mayors were elected in local elections in March.

A recent survey conducted by Samer, a pollster that specialises on Kurdish issues, has shown that economic problems had become a more important priority among Kurdish voters compared to the three decades-long Kurdish conflict.

For 46.3 percent of the voters in southeast Turkey, the country’s main problem is the economy and unemployment, while 16.4 percent think the most important problem is the Kurdish conflict.

According to the pollster, 53.2 percent of voters in southeastern provinces oppose appointed mayors, while there is 30.9 percent support, 76.3 percent of which comes from AKP voters.

While almost 60 percent of the voters said they would not change the party they vote for because of appointed mayors, Samer also found that Erdoğan’s pledge to unseat elected mayors after the March election had no effect on voting preferences. 

When asked which party they would vote for in March, 45.7 percent said they would vote for the HDP, while 28.3 percent said the AKP.