The worsening security situation in eastern and southeastern Turkey as the country once again heads for elections on Nov. 1 has become the top issue that has to be solved for the sake of healthy polls.
The opposition once again is saying healthy elections cannot be held under the current conditions and that the results of such elections would be open to question.
Yes, it is that the situation in eastern and southeastern Turkey is far from being satisfactory and that it will not be easy to create relatively viable conditions to secure meaningful elections. However, we have to see that the adverse security conditions in eastern and southeastern Turkey is nothing new. Just because we went to the local elections in 2013, to the presidential elections in 2014 and to the general elections in 2015 in relative peace and tranquility in eastern and southeastern Turkey, it does not mean we could not hold safe and legitimate elections during the period between 1993 and 2013 when terrorist activities were in abundance in these regions.
Of course we can see that the PKK will make an extra effort to stall the elections but the state, which is out to prove itself, will also be in the field to foil their plot.
It is true that the PKK has exploited the peace and reconciliation process to its benefit since 2013 strengthening its terrorist infrastructure in eastern and southeastern Anatolia, massing arms in hideouts, digging hedges around townships to prevent security forces from intervening against terrorist activities and the declaration by PKK officials that some areas are now "autonomous." All these will be major challenges to the Turkish state and the elections government of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
But it is also an opportunity for Davutoğlu to win back the moderate and pro-Islamic Kurdish votes with meaningful gestures and thus show to the PKK that they cannot prevail.
Voting in the western cities of Turkey is no different than voting in Paris, New York or London. Voting in İzmir and Antalya is no different than voting in Miami or Los Angeles. These places are secure and people can vote freely without being pressured by the PKK or any other party or group. So much so that many people who felt they were voting for a democratic cause in Istanbul and Ankara voted for the Kurdish nationalist Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) to help it pass the 10 percent election threshold.
Meanwhile, in southeastern Turkey the PKK was herding the village people to the polls forcing them to vote for the HDP. This time they should not be allowed to bully the people and the state has a duty to help citizens make their preferences freely. This of course is easier said than done. But the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) dominating the elections government could well do a balancing act making an extra effort to not violate the civil rights of the people of eastern and southeastern Turkey while putting an end to the efforts of the PKK and its sympathizers to create an atmosphere of violence and terrorism and thus sabotage the elections.
This could mean in certain sensitive areas the villagers can be spared from the PKK's pressure as they are moved to townships in the elections to vote for their party of preference.