Unofficial results of Sunday’s poll in Turkey indicate that pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lost in some metropolitan municipalities it had won in previous elections.
However, its base had a huge impact on the results of the races in contentious cities including Istanbul and Ankara.
HDP has not come up with mayoral candidates in Turkey’s largest cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmır, prompting Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s accusations against the opposition over a secret alliance.
HDP’s move supposedly caused a slump in its percentage of the votes in general with 4,22 percent of the ballots it obtained in the countrywide vote count, compared to 11,70 percent it won in the 2018 general elections.
The pro-Kurdish party retained most of the municipalities it won in the 2014 general elections, losing the eastern city of Agri and southeastern city of Sirnak to the ruling AK Party.
As part of a crackdown following the failed 2016 coup, the government appointed trustees instead of elected mayors to the 94 municipalities run by HDP mayors out of 102 mayoral posts.
Erdogan’s AK Party and its ally the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) adopted a discourse that equates HDP with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has waged an armed insurgency in southeastern Turkey for decades.
Accusing the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and its ally the Good Party (IYI) of forging a secret alliance with PKK had been one of the focal points of Erdogan’s campaign for Sunday’s polls.
Nearly 13% of the votes were cast for HDP in Istanbul in the 2018 general election while the combined percentage of CHP and IYI Party’s votes was around 34%.
However, the outcome of Sunday’s polls displays that 48,79 percent of the votes in Istanbul were cast for the opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu, which might indicate that more than a million HDP votes could have been garnered by him.
In Ankara as well, where opposition candidate Mansur Yavas has won the race with 51 percent of the votes, more than 200 000 HDP votes apparently had an impact on tipping the balance in favor of the opposition.
Similarly, HDP votes led the opposition bloc to win a string of municipalities in the Mediterranean coast with metropolitan cities such as Antalya, Mersin, and Adana.
A portion of pro-Kurdish party supporters was discussing whether to boycott the poll. This was a bid to show their disapproval with what they called candidates’unwillingness to address the crackdown on Kurdish politicians.
However, the imprisoned former co-chair of the party Selahattin Demirtas who has been jailed over terrorism charges for more than 2 years, sent a crucial message to HDP supporters very early on the morning of election day.
His message which was published on his official Twitter account called on his followers to go to the polls regardless of the “neglect” they faced.
His call to the HDP supporters seems to have appealed to the party’s base, dealing a significant blow to the dominance of the ruling AK party on local administration level.