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Turkey's Kurds key to Erdogan's presidency bid

The Kurdish movement, uneasy with the stalling of the peace process, may have a card to play in the August presidential elections.
A giant banner, which reads: "Negotiation or war" and shows different pictures of jailed Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), is displayed during a gathering celebrating Newroz, which marks the arrival of spring and the new year, in Diyarbakir March 21, 2014. Ocalan called on the Turkish government on Friday to create a legal framework for their peace talks, whose fate is looking increasingly uncertain a year after he called a ceasefire by his fighters. Tens of thous
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Barring extraordinary developments in Turkey, we can safely predict that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be the Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate in the August presidential elections. While Erdogan of course wants to win in the first round of voting, to avoid an uncertain runoff, this might not be easy for him to accomplish. Even if one takes into consideration absentee ballots from abroad and votes from two small conservative nationalist parties likely to support Erdogan, he is still unlikely to receive more than 50% of the vote in the first round. Thus, the Kurdish factor enters the equation.

If Erdogan wants to be elected in the first round, he needs Kurdish votes. Such votes, however, do not come for free. The kind of victory Erdogan wants requires that he meet some of the Kurds' demands and provide convincing promises for others yet to come. This cannot be disputed. In the first round of balloting, Kurds hold the key for Erdogan. If the election goes to a second round, the Kurds' cards will not be as strong, because Erdogan will have the votes of the National Action Party's conservative Sunni base, making his need for Kurdish votes less desperate.

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