Turkey Elections: Heavy stakes in Kurdish Southeast

Published: March 30, 2019

The local elections for the posts of Mayors and Municipal Councils, in Turkey have pronounced significance for one corner of Turkey. The area under scan has witnessed as many as hundred Mayors being removed from office in recent years and getting replaced by “Kayyum” which are government-appointed trustees. The move has always been labelled as an attack on the democratic systems and also condemned widely. However, some of the local people talk in favour of the Kayyum and state that they have improved the delivery of services and have brought in added security to the region.

The overthrown Mayors generally belong to the Peoples’ Democratic Party and they were forced to leave the offices after the talks between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party had failed in July 2015. The Turkish government blamed that the Mayors were channelizing the public resources towards the group which was considered as a terrorist outfit by both Turkey and the Western nations. Many hundreds of the HDP leaders were also detained and imprisoned including Selahattin Demirtas, who is the co-leader of the party.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has issued stern warnings in the wake of Sunday polls that no candidate who has links with any terrorist outfit will be allowed to take office. The threat is said to be aimed at HDP. Latter has denied having any links with the PKK, and the claims which state the HDP-run councils had supported PKK were heightened in late 2015 when long curfews lasting for months had been imposed on various cities, towns and villages as the security forces were trying to oust PKK fighters. Nearly 4300 people had lost their lives in the violence as per the International Crisis Group. The government also blamed that the municipal diggers were used by the fighters to erect defences and also for planting of IEDs.

Supporters of the President Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party have stated that the Kayyum have worked very hard in the region and there is visible improvement seen in the services. Kayyum as per the supporters have done much more work in the region than which was done in the last 20 years. People are of the view that the new authority has also significantly improved the security for voters during the elections and there is no pressure on the people to manipulate their votes. Even the campaigning has been much more comfortable as compared to the past elections.

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