Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may be facing an uphill battle in winning over Kurdish voters at presidential and parliamentary elections in 2023 after his government replaced scores of Kurdish mayors and began a crackdown on the main pro-Kurdish party.
Opinion polls do not foresee an encouraging result for Erdoğan, who has been forced to ally with the far-right nationalist movement party, said Yaşar Yakış, a former foreign minister under Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.
“Erdoğan has treated the Kurdish electorate so badly that, even if the main pro-Kurdish party – the HDP – agrees to cooperate with him, the grassroots may refuse to vote for it,” Yakış said in a column for Arab News on Sunday.
The Kurds represent a block of between 11 percent and 13 percent of Turkey’s electorate, meaning they may emerge as the kingmakers in the 2023 elections and those that follow, Yakış said. Erdoğan’s partners, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), acquiescing to a government with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) “is the last thing that one can think of”, he said.
Analysts have pondered whether Erdoğan’s visit last week to the mainly Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakir after a two and a half year absence may herald some kind of reconciliation with Kurdish voters or whether it might be a precursor to early elections, Yakış said.
Erdoğan did not commit himself to any reconciliation with the pro-Kurdish HDP, rather he accused it of being responsible for the collapse of the Kurdish peace process, which failed in 2015.
“The die is not yet cast,” Yakış said. “We will have to wait and see what surprise Erdoğan pulls from his sleeve next.”