Pro-PKK HDP voters may side with CHP, İP to undermine People's Alliance

Published 01.03.2019 00:13

The Pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) will side with the Nation Alliance of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Good Party (İP) in western Anatolian provinces in the local elections to try and deprive the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) of an electoral victory.

The preference of the HDP electorate for the March 31 local elections will determine the final results of the upcoming elections, the general manager of pollster KONDA Research, Bekir Ağırdır told Deutsche Welle Turkish.

Several surveys and the HDP leadership point out that at least 80 percent of the HDP electorate will go to the polls in a bid to undermine the People's Alliance bloc in Turkey's western provinces.

According to media outlets, the HDP follows the strategy of "undermining the People's Alliance's votes in the West" and is working with the opposition parties as a natural consequence.

Acting with this motivation, the HDP announced previously that it would not nominate mayoral candidates in seven major municipalities, including Istanbul, İzmir and Ankara, in the upcoming municipal elections.

The decision raised questions about a possible secret alliance between the CHP and the HDP, although both parties have refuted such claims.

Exposing the party's attitude toward the municipal elections, Saruhan Oluç, the HDP spokesman, said previously that "in these metropolitan areas, our electorate will vote for candidates other than the People's Alliance's nominees. In the western provinces, our percentage of votes stands at 12 percent to 14 percent. In the West, we will win by making the AK Party and MHP [National Movement Party] lose."

According to Ağırdır, seven or eight of every 10 HDP electorates in the West will vote for opposition parties, leaving open the possibility of 2-3 percent as potential non-voters.

The Turkish government has long accused the HDP of having close links with the PKK. The HDP is known for its support of autonomy in regions where large Kurdish populations live. Also, some of its members have been charged with or accused of having links to the PKK terrorist organization. Its former co-leader, Selahattin Demirtaş, was arrested in November 2016 over terrorist propaganda. Many of its members have often voiced support to the PKK.

Despite speculations that the nationalist nature of the MHP might cause the alliance to lose support of the Kurdish-origin voters, according to the experts, the previous two elections have proved the alliance's strength against such challenges, as Kurds have continued their backing for the AK Party as usual.

"These claims were tested two times before, in the April 2017 referendum and June 24 parliamentary and presidential elections, and have turned out to be false. Our research shows that there are no signs of a withdrawal of Kurdish votes from the People's Alliance in the next election too," İhsan Aktaş, head of the GENAR polling company, previously told the Daily Sabah.

Meanwhile, after the far-right İP was shaken when the much-debated Burhanettin Kocamaz's candidacy for the Mersin Metropolitan Municipality was not accepted by Turkey's Supreme Election Board (YSK) due to the İP's provincial party organization's late submission; the party announced yesterday that the İP will support the Democrat Party's (DP) candidate, former state minister Ayfer Yılmaz in the southern province.

Following the late submission crisis, MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli invited Kocamaz to join his party; however, Kocamaz decided later in the day to run as a candidate for the DP. On Monday, the Mersin provincial election board refused Kocamaz's candidacy.

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