Turkey: Erdoğan’s unfair election win poses grave danger for democracy and Kurds

May 31, 2023
HDP-YSP joint media conference
A People's Democratic Party and Green Left Party joint media conferencre following the election. Photo: hdp.org.tr

While Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s win in the May 28 second round of the Turkish presidential elections (with 52.2%) has sent a wave of concern and dread through democratic circles and the large Kurdish minority, it was met with celebratory gunfire by Turkish-backed jihadist militias in Syria, injuring 20 people, according to North Press Agency. Even the jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS, previously Jabhat al-Nusra), expelled from Turkish occupied Afrin — the westernmost province of Rojava/West Kurdistan — congratulated Erdoğan.

The elections were unfair and the win by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in alliance with the fundamentalist Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR) poses grave dangers to Kurdish people, Rojava leader Saleh Muslim from the Democratic Union Party (PYD) warned.

Erdoğan has cemented his grip on power by consolidating links with jihadist terrorist groups, mafia networks, and other criminal elements, he said.

“The government wanted to destroy and eliminate the Kurds in this election. It wanted to bring the attacks carried out in Kurdistan in the last eight years to a conclusion,” Muslim said, but the government’s efforts “did not yield the desired outcome” as close to half the electors rejected his leadership.

Kurdish people are resilient and able to defend themselves while leading a struggle for democracy, he added. The pro-Kurdish Green Left Party secured 61 seats to become the third-largest party in parliament, a testament to their determination “despite attacks, pressure, and fraud”.

Meanwhile, a wave of violent arrests was unleashed in the Kurdish majority south-east of the country, following the second round vote. A series of post- election house raids resulted in violent beatings and detentions on May 29, the day after the election, in the province of Hakkari (Colemêrg), Mezopotamya Agency reported.

“Special operations police reportedly broke windows and doors during the raid and inflicted beatings (including gun butt strikes), kicks and punches, according to MedyaNews.

In Batman, at least 20 opposition supporters were arrested for making the “victory” hand sign associated with pro-Kurdish parties. Journalist Vedat Aker was arrested for reporting on the arrests.

Representatives from the pro-Kurdish opposition Democratic Society Congress (DTK), Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK), Democratic Regions Party (DBP), Green Left Party, and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) — which had been blocked from participating in the elections in its own name — met on May 30 in Ankara to evaluate the election results and plan a joint “roadmap” to democratise the country.

According to MedyaNews the parties emphasised the need to escalate the democratic-revolutionary social struggle in Turkey, especially since the election demonstrated that half the population does not consent to the current government.

While the pro-Kurdish groups contested the national assembly elections under the Green Left Party name, they decided not to field their own presidential candidate. Instead they campaigned for the main opposition presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu from the Republican People’s Party, the traditional Turkish nationalist (Kemalist) party.

During the first round of the election campaign, Kılıçdaroğlu promised to peacefully resolve the Kurdish question and release former HDP chairperson Selahattin Demirtas, imprisoned since 2016 on trumped up terrorism charges.

In the campaign for the second round, Kılıçdaroğlu made a dirty bid for support from ultra-nationalist parties by promising to expel millions of mainly Syrian refugees who fled the civil war in their homeland.

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.