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What's behind nationalist gains in Turkey’s Kurdish regions?

As many struggle to explain the rise in the nationalist vote in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority southeast, some observers see the impact of police and military reinforcements in the region and the influence of the security establishment.
Leader of Turkey's Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahceli gestures as he addresses his supporters during an election rally in Ankara on June 23, 2018. - Turkey is preparing for tight presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24, while many analysts say the incumbent President wants a major foreign policy success to give him a final boost. (Photo by ADEM ALTAN / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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The most controversial results in Turkey’s June 24 elections came from the predominantly Kurdish provinces in the country’s southeast. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), whose hard-line nationalist rhetoric hardly appeals to the Kurds, saw a three-fold increase in its votes in the region, while the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the torchbearer of the Kurdish political movement, suffered a decline.

Given the diametrically opposed policies of the two parties, many analysts agree that swing votes and internal dynamics cannot explain the phenomenon. Hence, the MHP’s gains and the HDP’s decline require separate analyses.

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