HDP flag is everywhere now

HDP flag is everywhere now

While assessing the presidential elections that took place Aug. 10, the most surprising results came from the front of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) candidate Selahattin Demirtaş. The fact that a candidate who represents the Kurdish political movement received votes from all around Anatolia for the first time is one of the most meaningful results of this election.

We can show Zonguldak as a striking example of this situation. In this city, in the local elections, which took place March 30, 1,615 citizens cast their vote for the HDP at the provincial council ballot boxes, 0.4 percent of the total vote. However, Aug. 10, 6,536 people voted for Demirtaş. The HDP quadrupled its votes.

We can guess that there has been a shift from other political parties, but mainly from Republican People’s Party (CHP), which received 136,000 votes March 30.

We come across this pattern in modest increasing intervals, from Thrace to the Black Sea, from every single corner of Anatolia, from a geography that spreads over even the most nationalist cities where the HDP didn’t even join the elections in the past. For example, at Çankırı where HDP and its sister party Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) didn’t propose a candidate during the local elections, Demirtaş took 1,040 votes.

In places that usually vote for the HDP, where the population is largely Kurdish, the rate of increase is very changeable. Demirtaş’s votes had almost doubled in some cities such as Adıyaman, whereas in some cities, the rate of increase is limited. For example, the increase in Diyarbakır only reached 15,000.

In Van, Şanlıurfa and Iğdır, Demirtaş’s votes were lower than the HDP’s votes in the local elections.  
The main issue here is every year, thousands of people immigrate from this region to the west, the south and the Black Sea for seasonal work and they cannot vote as a result.

Demirtaş made up for the losses caused by this situation with the votes that come from other parts of Turkey and from other political parties.

When we look at the geographical distribution of 914,000 votes that Demirtaş took in the presidential election, we see this: In 18 eastern and southeastern cities where mainly Kurdish people live, Demirtaş took 1,972,000 votes. From this number we understand half of the HDP’s votes come from the regions where many Kurds live. Additionally, in Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir Demirtaş took 933,000 votes. In other words, three-fourths of Demirtaş’s votes come from the East and Southeast, alongside with three large cities.

The HDP candidate saw the biggest increase in votes from the three largest cities Aug. 10. Istanbul brought the biggest rate of increase with 237,000 votes. The CHP’s stronghold İzmir came second place with an increase of nearly 100,000 votes. The increase in Ankara is above 67,000. We can say the new voters in these cities are of CHP origin. However, especially in Istanbul, there was also a shift from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to Demirtaş.

While Demirtaş took votes from people all around Turkey who supported the CHP and people who didn’t support the CHP, Alevis who were irritated by Ekmeleddin Ihsanoğlu’s candidacy also choose Demirtaş. The fact that Demirtaş got more votes than Ihsanoğlu in Tunceli shows Alevi Kurds supported Demirtaş.

It isn’t possible to underestimate the amount of votes the HDP’s candidate took from the AKP. It is probable that many Kurdish AKP voters who wanted to emphasize their Kurdish identity and supported Demirtaş this time. According to the findings of researcher Adil Gür, 3 percent of people who voted for the AKP during the elections March 30, chose Demirtaş this time. This means nearly 600,000 voters by rough calculations.

The HDP-BDP line, at the elections held March 30, took 2,967,000 votes from 51 cities’ provincial councils and 30 metropolitan city councils. Some 3,914,000 people voted for Demirtaş on Aug. 10, which means there was an increase of 950,000. However, when we consider the loss of votes caused by seasonal immigration, the amount of the vote that was given to Demirtaş outside of HDP supporters is way much higher than 947,000.

One of the most remarkable results of this election is the HDP showed a humble presence all around Turkey by going out of its traditional boundaries. In addition to the support that came from Kurdish-origin AKP constituency, it is also undeniable that Demirtaş’s use of an encompassing discourse that gave messages to mostly leftists, but all Turkish people at the election platform played an important role. 

It is now well understood that by using language like this, the Kurdish political movement can receive support from people who are not of Kurdish origin. However, starting from today, the question of whether this political tendency will last or not is still unanswered. How the answer will take shape depends on many varying factors in the days to come.