Who will the Kurds vote for in the Turkish elections?

Yasha, Middle East Monitor, May 31, 2018

presidential and parliamentary elections will be held in less than a month.
Given the alignment of political parties and the formation of two electoral
alliances, many observers and analysts are asking who the Turkish citizens of
Kurdish origin will vote for. Even the smallest difference in support for
either coalition could change the poll results.
ballots are seen ahead of the Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections
which will take place on 24 June in Ankara, Turkey [Emin Sansar/Anadolu Agency]

seeking an answer to the first question, is it possible to say that a single
party or trend represents all of the Kurdish voters? To say that the Kurds will
vote for this party or that party presupposes that they are united in their
opinions and politics. Reality, however, suggests otherwise.
voters, like the Turks, are divided along intellectual and political lines.
Some are nationalists or leftists, while others are liberals, democrats or
Islamists. Although the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is ranked first in most
of the Kurdish-majority provinces in Turkish elections, the percentage of votes
given to other parties by Kurdish voters is not low. There are also Kurdish MPs
and politicians who are members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK
Party), the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and others.
nationalists do not vote for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) while the
Turkish nationalists do not vote for the HDP. However, we cannot say that all
of the Kurds would not vote for the MHP or say that all of the Turks would not
vote for the HDP. There are Kurdish voters who do vote for the HDP and Turkish
voters who do vote for the HDP, albeit only a few. The head of the MHP, Devlet
Bahceli, criticised “anyone who claims that the Nationalist Movement Party is
an enemy of the Kurds” and called them “traitors”.
the most important question is whether or not the Kurdish voters who backed the
AK Party in the previous elections will refrain from doing so this time because
of its alliance with the MHP. There are indicators that help analysts shed
light on the answer to this question. The first is that these Kurdish voters
voted “yes” in the popular referendum on the constitutional amendments and
supported the transition from the parliamentary system to the presidential
system. This is despite the fact that these amendments were drafted and passed
in parliament by the AK Party in alliance with the MHP.
opposition electoral alliance includes the Iyi Party, led by Meral Aksener and
founded by MHP dissidents. Aksener once served in the Ministry of the Interior
and her time in office was marked by violations against the Kurds. Hence, Kurds
are not expected to vote for the coalition that includes Aksener’s party. One
supporter of the HDP even wrote an article calling on supporters not to vote
for Aksener or the CHP presidential candidate, Muharrem Ince, even if either
one needed just a single vote to win.
is the fruit of an alliance between the radical Turkish left-wing parties and
dissident Kurds who support the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). However, there
is concern among the Kurdish ranks about extremist left-wing Turks controlling
the party. Some believe that the Kurds are being exploited and marginalised in
the HDP and that the party has lost its “Kurdish identity”.
an important development took place on Monday, when the Free Cause (Huda Par)
Party announced its support for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the AK
Party candidate in the presidential poll. In a press conference in Istanbul,
party Secretary-General Mehmet Yavuz said that it had made the decision in
order to build the new political system on sound foundations and to support the
success of the presidential system that they had voted for in the referendum.
Most of
the Free Cause Party’s supporters are religious Kurds, so its support for
Erdogan in the presidential election can be described as “new support for him
by Kurdish voters.” The Free Cause Party leader, Zekeriya Yapicioglu, is
running in the parliamentary elections as an independent candidate in the
Diyarbakir province, while his deputy, Ayden Gok, is running as an independent
candidate in the Kurdish-majority province of Batman.
citizens of Kurdish origin, like citizens of Turkish origin, do not all vote
according to their political and ideological orientations. A large percentage
will vote on 24 June for the continuation of services, development projects,
security and stability away from ethnic and partisan strife.