“We promise peace and prosperity to Turkey; we extend a brotherly hand. Do not leave this hand in the air, brothers and sisters. Vote for Kılıçdaroğlu, and Turkey will breathe,” said Selahattin Demirtaş in the latest of many tweets on Saturday.
Demirtaş, a jailed Kurdish politician and former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), warned voters that “Tomorrow is not the end of the world, but it could be the end of democracy and the economy. Tomorrow is not doomsday, but it could be the last election,” in the case that Erdoğan is re-elected in tomorrow’s presidential run-off.
Pro-Kurdish parties in Turkey, namely the HDP and the Green Left Party, have been actively mobilising voters against the two-decade-long rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey. Several Kurdish politicians, some of whom are imprisoned or in exile, have joined the campaign by conveying messages of determination and hope.
Throughout the campaign, Demirtaş has consistently made his voice heard from prison through his legal representatives. In a previous message on Friday, he warned, “If no change arises from the ballot, it will be a disaster for the economy and for democracy. There won’t be another chance! Let’s make Kılıçdaroğlu president and allow Turkey to breathe. Go to the polls, each vote cast is another breath.”
Concerns have surfaced regarding a trustee clause that could impact Kurdish voters, in a memorandum the opposition Nation Alliance’s candidate, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, forged with far-right politician Ümit Özdağ in order to secure votes from the Ata (Ancestral) Alliance. The Ata Alliance’s presidential candidate in the first round of the presidential elections, Sinan Oğan, received over 5 percent of the vote. Oğan himself chose to support Erdoğan’s People’s Alliance, but Özdağ declared his endorsement for Kılıçdaroğlu after the memorandum was signed.
Some worry that Kurdish voters might abstain from voting due to the trustee clause outlined in the memorandum, which suggests that this anti-democratic measure could persist under Kılıçdaroğlu’s potential presidency. In response, the pro-Kurdish parties held an urgent meeting on Wednesday and reaffirmed their continued support for Kılıçdaroğlu on the following day. However, they firmly expressed their objection to the clause in question.
Prominent Kurdish politician Ahmet Türk emphasised that their focus is not on Özdağ, stating, “I want to send this message to our people, to our youth. Don’t be deceived; protesting and abstaining from voting will only benefit Erdoğan. We will make our choice in favour of Kılıçdaroğlu.” HDP co-chair Pervin Puldan echoed this sentiment, affirming their party’s stance by saying, “We don’t dwell on Özdağ’s racist and fascist rhetoric. What matters to us are Kılıçdaroğlu’s promises.” She added, “We consider Kılıçdaroğlu’s commitments regarding the trustee issue and the resolution of the Kurdish conflict as fundamental,” during a press conference held in Diyarbakır (Amed) on Friday.