The Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which aims to restore the lost ground suffered in the June 7 elections and come to power on its own in the Nov. 1 elections, has vested its hopes on those who switched their votes to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in central Anatolia and the Kurdish nationalist Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in eastern and southeastern provinces in the recent elections.
The AK Party is the only party that has any hope of coming to power by winning a majority of the seats in Parliament with only a slight increase in votes. The party won 41 percent of the vote and 258 seats in the 550-seat Parliament and thus only needs an increase of a few percentages to win the 276 seats needed to capture a majority.
With the MHP, the AK Party hopes some of the conservative nationalist voters who normally voted the for AK Party but switched on June 7 may return in the hope that they were disappointed with the MHP's performance in the past few months as it refused to enter a coalition with the AK Party. So there are indications that some people who voted for the MHP on June 7 may return back to the AK Party fold. The number remains to be seen as conservatives also feel the AK Party is responsible for giving a free hand to the PKK to create a terrorist infrastructure in the eastern and southeastern provinces due to the peace and reconciliation process, which collapsed since July with the PKK resuming its terrorist activities with new momentum.
On the HDP front, the preferences and mood of the people in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern and eastern provinces, are important.
A survey by MAK Consultancy Company - conducted between Sept. 12 and Sept. 16 with 1,521 people in 16 eastern and southeastern provinces in major cities and 121 townships - shows a drop in the support for the HDP. What is stunning in the survey is that it also shows for the first time in such a survey, merely 12.4 percent openly say they will not go to the polling stations on June 7. Those who say they will back the HDP make up 51.8 percent, with 26 percent saying they will opt for the AK Party.
What is also interesting in the survey is that it shows a massive majority of the people reject attempts to declare some areas as autonomous regions in eastern and southeastern Turkey by the HDP-affiliated municipalities. Around 44 percent reject such a move. An additional 30 percent say this amounts to secession and only 6 percent say they support autonomy for the Kurds. Twenty percent say they are undecided or do not want to respond. Thus a majority of the people in the region do not want to part with Turkey and will reject any attempt that will lead to this. That means they reject the HDP and PKK's moves for secession.
Another interesting result from the survey shows one-third of the voters say they are prepared to switch their votes in the Nov. 1 polls, which means some of the votes that went to the HDP may come back to the AK Party.
The survey was conducted before the parties presented their list of candidates to the Supreme Elections Board (YSK). Since then AK Party has fielded much better candidates in the eastern and southeastern provinces, which bolsters its hopes that it may regain at least some of the lost ground.
The survey also shows the majority of people in the region are seriously affected materially and morally by the increase in violence and terrorist activities in their areas. Despite this, 45 percent say they believe their problems will be solved after the November elections and 45 percent also believe the AK Party will come to power on its own. It seems the AK Party has a chance of regaining at least some of the lost votes, and that will make a difference in the elections and they may win a small majority. However, it does not have the luxury of making any more mistakes especially in sensitive policies regarding eastern and southeastern Turkey.