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How the Kurdish factor had a boomerang effect in Erdogan's election defeat

Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party played a key role in Erdogan’s defeats in big cities in the local polls, managing to get its voters to back mayoral candidates from the main opposition bloc while sitting out the races.
Supporters of pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) celebrate municipal elections results in Diyarbakir, Turkey, March 31, 2019. REUTERS/Sertac Kayar - RC174F6B2F50
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The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) of Turkey — which has a predominantly Kurdish base and has suffered heavy government oppression since 2015 — played a decisive role in the government’s loss of the big cities, including the crucial Istanbul, in the March 31 local elections. As part of its political strategy in the country’s west, the HDP sat out the mayoral races in big cities such as Istanbul, Izmir, Adana and the capital city of Ankara. Paradoxically, the HDP absence from the ballots became the party’s way of proving its political presence and weight.

The HDP’s no-show in big cities aimed to precipitate the defeat of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party, but to achieve this, the HDP had to do another thing: Get its supporters out to the polls to cast strategic votes for the Nation Alliance, comprised of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the right-wing Good Party. The election results show that the party pulled it off.

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