Some 70 percent of the Kurdish voters of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) are likely to vote for the opposition’s presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in Turkey’s 14 May elections, but their support has some conditions attached, a pollster told Artı Gerçek on Saturday.
The HDP voters have not had a negative approach to the candidacy of Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said Yüksel Genç, the coordinator of Socio-Politic Field Study Centre.
The pro-Kurdish party this week implicitly announced its support for Kılıçdaroğlu, announcing that it will not field its own candidate in presidential elections.
In order to declare victory in the elections, both President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his strongest rival Kılıçdaroğlu need to ensure the support of Kurdish voters on 14 May.
There are different tendencies among Kurdish voters towards Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy, Genç said.
Some Kurdish voters are ready to vote for the candidate of the six-party Nation Alliance if this candidate takes into account the demands of the Kurdish voters, treats them equally and makes credible promises on the solution of the Kurdish issue, the pollster said.
“Alright, we can vote, but he should show that he will be different from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule. How will he differ, what will his attitude be on the Kurdish question and democratisation. We are not hearing anything concrete on these issues. When we hear such things, we will vote for him,” Genç quoted some voters as saying during their field surveys.
However, some 15-16 percent of HDP voters are protesting the Nation Alliance and its candidate, particularly as a result of the alliance member Good Party’s rhetoric on the Kurdish issue, Genç explained.
“In the final analysis, of course the willingness of HDP voters to vote for Kılıçdaroğlu or the candidate of the Nation Alliance is not something unconditional,” Genç said, adding that some 75 percent might question their decision to vote if they see a negative environment in terms of Kurdish demands during the election campaign period.
“To win the election, Kılıçdaroğlu needs the HDP votes, as a block” the pollster said. “A divided HDP vote might give the candidate of the Nation Alliance an advantage. But they will eliminate all risks, if all of those votes are casted in their candidate’s favour,” he added.
Kııçdaroğlu met with the co-chairs of the HDP on Monday in the parliament and the two parties’ leaders emphasised the need to solve the Kurdish issue when talking to the press afterwards.
Though the opposition media called the meeting “historical”, that meeting alone and Kılıçdaroğlu’s comments on some Kurdish demands during the press conference, might not be sufficient to win the votes of the HDP supporters, according to Genç.
Kılıçdaroğlu on Monday criticised the double standard imposed on the Kurdish language in Turkey, specifically condemning Kurdish being labelled as “an unknown language” in parliamentary documents.
However, this comment falls short of Kurdish voters’ expectations, Genç said, adding that HDP voters demanded that Kurdish become a second official language in Turkey, with all related educational rights being respected.
During the conference, the leaders of both parties pointed to the Turkish parliament as the location where the Kurdish issue should be resolved.
“Of course, the Kurdish voters buy the idea that the parliament is the address for solving the Kurdish question,” the pollster said, adding that, given their previous experiences, the voters also want to know how the Kurdish issue will be handled in the parliament and what types of mechanisms will be established for its solution.