Em­bold­ened by lo­cal elec­tions, Er­do­gan looks to the Kurds in pres­i­den­tial bid

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - By Bash­dar Pusho Is­maeel

The lo­cal elec­tions in Turkey were widely touted as a piv­otal land­mark and ref­er­en­dum on the 11 year rule of AKP and Prime Min­is­ter Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan.

Whilst Er­do­gan has been un­der great pres­sure of late and has en­dured much pub­lic­ity, he was not only able to come out the elec­tions fight­ing but em­bold­ened to the con­trary of ex­pec­ta­tions from op­po­si­tion cir­cles.

This goes to show that in democ­racy even if 1 mil­lion come to the streets in stern op­po­si­tion, it is rel­a­tive and not al­ways a re­flec­tion of the sen­ti­ment of mil­lions that de­cide not to take to the streets. His op­po­si­tion can­not be taken lightly but his sup­port is ev­i­dently greater.

In the end the Gülenists failed to demon­strate that they have the po­lit­i­cal clout to strike a real blow to Er­do­gan and the AKP. The re­sound­ing vic­tory gave Er­do­gan re­newed con­fi­dence to un­der­mine and at­tack the Gülenists and Er­do­gan hardly hid his de­sire to root them out, hold­ing them re­spon­si­ble for un­rest in Turkey and smear cam­paigns against the govern­ment.

The elec­tion re­sults pro­vide a plat­form for Er­do­gan to pur­sue his long­time am­bi­tion of re­plac­ing Ab­dul­lah Gul as pres­i­dent at the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in Au­gust, where for the first time the pres­i­dent will be elected by pop­u­lar vote and not by govern­ment.

The Peace and Democ­racy Party (BDP) had a de­cent show­ing at the elec­tions even if they failed to woe their tar­geted num­ber of votes, but AKP con­tin­ued to fair strongly in Kur­dish districts.

There is pop­u­lar con­sen­sus amongst Kurds that Er­do­gan, who has been the in­sti­ga­tor of much wel­come re­form of Kur­dish rights and grad­ual steer­ing away of na­tion­al­ist hys­te­ria against the Kurds, is the key to the con­tin­u­a­tion of the peace process.

Even though the pace and scope of the peace process has dis­ap­pointed and not met Kur­dish ex­pec­ta­tions, Er­do­gan has taken po­lit­i­cal risk amidst a back­drop of na­tion­al­ist op­po­si­tion.

In this light, deal­ing a blow to Gülenists and sec­u­lar na­tion­al­ists alike was a com­mon agenda of the Kurds and the AKP.

Er­do­gan se­cured 46% of the vote but must now strive to build on this es­pe­cially if he is to suc­ceed in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions. An al­liance with the BDP is a seem­ingly log­i­cal step for both sides.

The BDP (and their sis­ter party HDP) mus­tered just over 6% of the vote hav­ing won 3 met­ro­pol­i­tan mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, 8 prov­inces and 66 districts.

Kurds rep­re­sent a sig­nifi­ant por­tion of the elctroate and be­tween those that voted for AKP and the BDP, a com­ing to­gether to sup­port Er­do­gan‘s can­di­dacy will al­most cer­tainly tip the scales favourably.

If an un­der­stand­ing on a peace pack­age can be reached, im­pris­oned PKK leader Ab­dul­lah Ocalan may give his cru­cial en­dorse­ment to Er­do­gan. Such an in­di­rect al­liance would not only speak vol­umes on how far the Kurds have pro­gressed but also on the lever­age that Ocalan and the PKK con­tinue to hold.

How­ever, the Kur­dish sup­port at this crit­i­cal and defin­ing ten­ure for Er­do­gan will not come at a cheap price.

The BDP lead­er­ship have warned that sup­port of Er­do­gan is not a fore­gone con­clu­sion with the ex­pec­ta­tion that con­crete steps will be taken on the peace process.

Kurds ex­pect the AKP to build on the pos­i­tive but ul­ti­mately in­suf­fi­cient re­form pack­age an­nounced last year. The prize of the Kurds is lo­cal au­ton­omy and there has never been a bet­ter time to achieve this.

The abo­li­tion of anti-ter­ror laws that dis­c­rimanted Kurds, lo­cal ad­min­straive pow­ers, changes in the pe­nal code, re­lease of Kur­dish de­tainees and im­prove­ment in the prison con­di­tion of Ocalan will be high on the list of de­mands.

All this will not be easy to achieve and early post-elec­tion rhetoric from Er­do­gan has cre­ated an el­e­ment of doubt but Turkey has made sig­nif­i­cant strides that were once un­think­able.

If Er­do­gan and his govern­ment fail to deliver tan­gi­ble re­sults on the peace process, not only will this greatly di­lute fu­ture Kur­dish vote for the AKP but risk a con­tin­u­a­tion of war with the PKK.

Er­do­gan has a base to build on, but he can ill-af­ford to cre­ate en­e­meies from too many sides. His op­po­nents will surely lick their wounds, re­group and fight an­other day and Er­do­gan has to jug­gle cross-na­tional sen­ti­ments care­fully. He clearly needs the Kur­dish vote but can he apease the ever-ex­pec­tant Kurds and at the same time not alien­tate the na­tion­al­ist cir­cles by been per­ceived as sell­ing out to Ocalan?

It wasnt just Kurds on the Turk­ish di­dide that had a vested in­ter­est in a strong show­ing for Er­do­gan and the AKP. The Kur­dis­tan Re­gion whose cur­rent ties with Turkey is a far-cry from sev­eral years ago can take re­newed con­fi­dence on the dozens of con­tract signed, strate­gic ties with Ankara and the vi­tal agree­ment for ex­port of Kur­dish oil.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Iraq

© PressReader. All rights reserved.