Main opposition leader and presidential challenger Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu won the highest percentage of the vote in five Kurdish-majority provinces in Turkey’s critical presidential election on Sunday.
The highest vote of all came from Tunceli (Dersim), a stronghold of the Alevi religious minority of which Kılıçdaroğlu himself is a member, with 80.26 percent.
Historic strongholds of the Kurdish movement, Şırnak (Şirnex) and Hakkari (Colemêrg), followed with 75.61 and 73.53 percent, more than 8 and 10 times the vote that Kılıçdaroğlu’s own Republican People’s Party (CHP) won in the provinces.
Fourth in the top five was Diyarbakır (Amed), the biggest Kurdish-majority province in the country, with 71.96 percent of voters choosing Kılıçdaroğlu over the incumbent president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The figure surpasses that of the CHP and pro-Kurdish Green Left Party (YSP) combined (68.99 percent) in the parliamentary election held at the same time.
Batman (Êlih), a relatively conservative majority-Kurdish province, closed off the top five with 67.57 percent of the vote going to Kılıçdaroğlu.
Each of the five provinces produced a higher vote for the republican leader than the western Izmir province, which is the country’s main secular republican stronghold, where Kılıçdaroğlu won 63.29 of the vote.
The CHP leader’s sudden jump in popularity in the Kurdish-majority southeast is due to pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), under the list of the Green Left Party, choosing not to field its own presidential candidate and instead announcing support for Kılıçdaroğlu, and campaigning in his favour separately from Kılıçdaroğlu’s Nation Alliance. The opposition alliance is also known as the Table of Six as it includes another five centre-right and right-wing parties who oppose Erdoğan and his government.