Measures to be introduced for election security

Measures to be introduced for election security

All indicators show that there will be a referendum on April 16. While we are approaching the referendum for constitutional amendments, two works are being carried out in the regions. 

The first one is security in voting centers. It is almost certain that the referendum will be held under circumstances of the state of emergency. In polling stations there will be nobody else but officials and voters. Thus, the pressure of terrorist organizations on voters in certain regions will be prevented. Militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) will be stopped from intimidating local communities.

The second work is to provide that the will of the people in the region will reflect on the ballot boxes. PKK has in the past blocked voters in villages from voting for other parties. It was organizing voters to come to the elections and cast their votes in groups in small settlements. This will not be allowed in the referendum. The state will organize transportation for those who will travel to city centers from remote settlements to vote.

I spoke with relevant people; and here are their responses to my questions:

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was a party that was able to gather hundreds of thousands in rallies. While HDP deputies are arrested, how is the stance of the people in the region?

It is not a surprise. The people have seen that the damage caused by urban wars is because of the organization, there is a reaction to this. The organization is experiencing the biggest vote erosion since its establishment. People are reacting because they have seen that the state has enabled civilian instruments for a solution and they were sincere with this, but despite this, the organization has opted for war. They are reacting to this. While the head of the party, which has gained millions of votes, was detained, the people in the region have not reacted, thus giving a message to the organization. The message is that the organization that has opted for violence should bear the consequences.

As a matter of fact, the arrest of Democracy Party (DEP) deputies from the Turkish parliament in the 1990s had caused reactions. When the mistakes of the 1990s were added to this, PKK had its second major leap during that era. Why is the same thing not happening now? Because the people of the region have enjoyed the benefits of the resolution process… They have understood that the state is favoring a nonviolent solution. They have seen that the organization wants war not solution.

Well, how is the HDP performing in the recent surveys? Have those people who distanced themselves from the HDP shifted to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)?

HDP votes look like it’s around 10 percent. There is a marginal segment of 6 to 8 percent in the party. People have distanced from the PKK, they blame them for the negativities experienced, but they are unclear toward the AKP too. 

Why unclear?

In recent surveys, it seems as though they have kept distant to the government because of the slow speed in building houses after urban wars. I want to draw attention to an aspect; with the lifting of the immunities of HDP deputies and with the state of emergency period, a new climate has begun. At a time when Turkey is undergoing a survival process, certain practices are understood. Kurds are also aware of this. But this wind would turn the other way around if HDP deputies and members are taken in and released one-by-one like in a domino board and a person like Ahmet Türk, who is open to dialogue, is taken from one city to the other, from one prison to another other.

How is the atmosphere in Ankara?

My impression is that this climate will continue for a while. Developments in Syria and domestic terror incidents poison the process. For this reason the aim is to keep PKK and HDP under continuous pressure.

The AKP-Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) stamp on the constitutional changes has made Kurdish votes much more important. The AKP has not won any elections up till now without the support of Kurds. 

It is apparent that the state of emergency period will continue until the end of the year. During the resolution process, the bicycle example of one of the architects of the IRA peace, Jonathan Powell, was brought up. This time they use the state of emergency as the bicycle simile.

“We will fight terror and we will overcome the July 15 trauma at the same time. If we do not pedal continuously then we will fall, like a bicycle.”