ErdoIan’s attacks serve only to boost the HDP’s electoral support

The general election slated for June 7 will be held under the domineering shadow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He has publicly denigrated opposition parties and urged voters to support the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). He has concentrated his attacks on the pro-Kurdish Peoplesand’ Democratic Party (HDP) and its Co-chair Selahattin Demirtai to make sure the HDP fails to pass the anti-democratic 10 percent election threshold, allowing the AKP to secure 50-60 more seats in Parliament. He has readily hurled strong accusations at the HDP. The lightest of these charges is that party figures are andquotextensions or collaborators of a terrorist organization.andquot
What have the reactions of voters in eastern and southeastern provinces been to President Erdogan throwing his weight behind the AKP in the elections? This was one of the key questions for which I tried to find an answer as I was keeping the pulse of voters in the region.
Erdogan is a dictator in the eyes of Alevis. Alevis are one of the primary victims of Erdoganand’s polarization policies. They are certainly the most concerned group about these policies. They are particularly annoyed by the sectarian rhetoric of Erdogan and the AKP. For these reasons, they donand’t like to see Erdogan conduct an election campaign in his capacity as president and in ruthless breach of constitutional prohibitions.
Kurdish supporters of the HDP know that Erdogan is their main rival. They think that Erdogan does not act as an impartial president and tries to lure voters into backing the AKP because he fears the HDP will pass the election threshold. What matters here is how the Kurds who voted for the AKP in previous elections will act. I must note that Kurds who previously voted for the AKP constitute a sizable proportion of voters in the country.
Elazii is one of the provinces where the AKP is particularly strong. Voters in this province are known to be particularly nationalistic and conservative. Zaza Kurds make up a major portion of the Kurdish population and they traditionally support rightist, conservative and nationalist parties. The fact that Erdogan has been waging an election campaign that directly targets the HDP has led to discomfort among these Kurds, and his waving the Holy Quran in rallies has been the last straw for many. The abuse of religion so ruthlessly for political ambitions has resulted in criticism, not sympathy. By the way, I must note that Selahattin Demirtai is a Zaza from Elazii. Indeed, there is a possibility that the HDP will secure a seat from Elazii for the first time.
Kurds from Diyarbakir who lend support to the HDP are extremely open. Therefore, the attitude of Kurds who previously backed the AKP is more important. The main reason why Kurds in Diyarbakir or elsewhere across the country support the AKP is the hope that the AKP and Erdogan will settle the Kurdish issue through peaceful methods. They are now disappointed to see that their hope has turned out to be a will-oand’-the-wisp.
Religious sentiments can be considered as another reason for Kurdsand’ support for the AKP. Kurds are often religious and they traditionally support parties that respect religious sentiments. However, they donand’t like the AKPand’s one-man system. The ruling partyand’s reluctance to investigate the graft allegations has raised questions in their minds as well. There are many Kurds who criticize Erdogan for waging an election campaign against the HDP in his capacity as a president.
However, it is hard to say that Kurds in or around Diyarbakir who traditionally support the AKP have withdrawn their backing completely, but it wouldnand’t be surprising if the AKPand’s electoral support in this region falls considerably, with a corresponding rise in support for the HDP.
There are a number of concrete reasons why Kurds are moving away from the AKP. The ruling partyand’s inconsistent acts and statements about the settlement process are noted as the most important factor. Erdoganand’s approach to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levantand’s (ISIL) attack on Kobani is also underlined, and his meddling with the election is another reason. True, no one — including AKP supporters — can defend Erdoganand’s decision to wage an election campaign in his capacity as president.
No one talks about the role of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoilu. He has been completely overshadowed by Erdogan. This is what citizens say.
Erdoganand’s election campaign is one of the main reasons for the HDPand’s skyrocketing support in the region.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman