Apr 12 2019

Erdoğan's rhetoric and Kurdish votes sparked election failure - analysis

The efforts of Turkey’s ruling party to turn March 31 local elections into a de facto referendum on the legitimacy of government coupled with the election strategy of a pro-Kurdish party paved the way for a historic loss, non-government organisation ResetDOC said on Friday.

The unofficial results of the local elections showed significant victories for opposition parties in most of Turkey’s largest cities, including Istanbul and the country's capital Ankara, both of which had been under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's control for decades.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)'s "obvious defeat" in the elections was rooted in the nationalist rhetoric of an alliance formed by the AKP and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), ResetDOC said.

"According to this rhetoric, the survival of the regime, the country’s territorial integrity, and even the nation’s very existence were at stake," said the Rome-based organization, which promotes dialogue between cultures, "It is striking how the same combination of alliance policy and campaign rhetoric produced an almost identical outcome to the April 16, 2017 presidential referendum."

But the election strategy of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), a convergence of the Kurdish movement and various Turkish leftist groups, was perhaps "the most detrimental actor" to AKP fortunes because it asked its supporters to vote strategically against the AKP and for an alliance of other opposition parties, ResetDOC said.

"Even though the NA (National Alliance, the opposition) parties made it explicit that the HDP was not welcome in the alliance, the HDP elected to openly support NA candidates in those districts where it chose not to run itself. This decision was, without doubt, a game changer in Turkey’s new politics of ballot alliance," the website said.