Jun 20 2018

Polls don’t reflect ‘silent majority’ ahead of elections - veteran Kurdish politician

Ahmet Türk, one of the founding members of Turkey’s Kurdish political movement, said that current election polls - which indicate that Turkey's leading party and the opposition are neck and neck- don’t reflect reality and a ‘’silent majority’’ too afraid to voice their opinion may surprise Turkey in Sunday’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

Turkey heads to the polls on June 24 where President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is looking to retain his seat with vastly increased powers approved in last year’s presidential referendum. Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), whose jailed presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş is running his campaign from behind bars, runs the risk of remaining below the 10 percent election threshold, which is the highest in the world.

‘’The people in Diyarbakır have been angry at this system, this regime for years,’’ Türk said of the residents of Turkey’s Kurdish-majority southeastern province while speaking to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. ‘’After 16 years of the AKP in power, people have lost hope in democracy, justice and the state of emergency rule…. These elections are an opportunity for all of this to come to an end.’’

Türk asserted that the June 24 elections are important as they provide the opportunity for change and transformation.

The former mayor of Mardin addressed a recent statement from Erdoğan who said that Turkey no longer has a Kurdish problem, saying, ‘’Erdoğan himself knows that this is not true.’’ The seasoned Kurdish politician stressed that the general Turkish population is aware of the issue and as such, Erdoğan’s claim holds no value.

‘’People in the region don’t want to express their ideas. But at the ballots I truly believe that they will cast their votes according to their beliefs. Take the province of Mardin for example, we have a great deal of power there, but people don’t show up for our rallies due to pressure. Police cameras, armored tanks - these intimidate people,’’ Türk said.

Türk underlined that the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party remaining under the 10 percent election threshold on June 24 would mean that the leading power will not change hands.

The 75-year-old Kurdish politician noted that the presidential race will go into a second round and that Turkey’s silent majority may lead to change in the country where Erdoğan’s AKP has been in power for 16 years.

Many conservative Kurds traditionally vote for Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) with the party coming second to the HDP in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast.