CHP and HDP alliance is dangerous: Expert to Al Mayadeen English
Expert in International and Turkish relations, Mahmoud Allouch emphasizes that this year's Turkish Presidential elections will not be concluded in the first round; stressing that the alliance between the Kurdish People's Democratic Party and the Republican People's Party is dangerous and critical in terms of the current electoral dynamics.
In an exclusive interview with Al Mayadeen English, expert in International and Turkish affairs, Mahmoud Allouch, delved into the Kurdish role in this year’s controversial Turkish presidential elections. Following the announcement of the Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) pledging its unwavering support for Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the political landscape witnessed a shift in the statistical outlook, shifting the electoral probabilities. The essence of the matter lies in the pivotal role of the Kurdish vote, the impact of HDP's actions on the political landscape, and the interplay between the Kurdish vote and regional Kurdish affairs.
Allouch emphasized the significance of the Kurdish electorate in the upcoming elections, asserting that the political climate concerning the Kurdish community constitutes a key variable that could make their vote decisive in determining the outcomes for both the governing and opposition coalitions. He added that the Kurdish People’s Democratic Party is the largest Kurdish party and supports the candidate CHP's leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the presidential elections, but noted that the party is running independently in the parliamentary elections. He elaborated further that “it did not nominate a candidate for the presidential elections in order to support Kilicdaroglu, but it will run in the parliamentary elections, and the parliamentary elections are important for the party,” adding that the party must cross a 7% electoral threshold in order to be represented in parliament and predicted the party’s success in the matter.
In terms of statistics, he elaborated that the HDP makes up 10 to 12% of the votes, and is anticipated to hold significant weight in favor of either Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or Kilicdaroglu in the upcoming presidential elections. Allouch clarified that Kilicdaroglu is relying on this voting bloc to secure his victory in the presidential elections during the first round, but “it is a challenging task to achieve a decisive outcome in the presidential elections during the initial round.”
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Could Kilicdaroglu pay the price?
In the same context, he unveiled that in such a widely anticipated scenario, the alliance between Kilicdaroglu and the People's Democratic Party is dangerous and will entail many risks. He contended that due to this alliance, the Republican People's Party's nationwide vote will suffer a 3% downfall, alongside the Good Party's 5% votes. With that being said, he explained that according to opinion polls, the voting bloc that turned away from Kilicdaroglu within the "six-party alliance," in response to his alliance with the Democratic People's Party, has shifted their support towards Muharrem Ince. “I think that Kilicdaroglu balances the issue of alliance with with the People's Democratic Party from a numerical perspective, meaning that an alliance with the HDP will bring about 10-12% of Kurdish votes for Kilicdaroglu,” he added.
On the contrary, he emphasized that there is a price to be paid by Kilicdaroglu, namely the loss of nationalist votes. "Nevertheless, Kilicdaroglu's electoral strategy is predicated on the assumption that the 12% Kurdish vote approximates to 8% of nationalist votes, thereby giving him an additional 4% vote share." Thus, he believes that if Kilicdaroglu wins the presidential elections during the initial round, the alliance will prove beneficial for him. However, if the elections proceed to the second round, which Allouch pointed out would critical, the HDP would demonstrate that its backing for Kilicdaroglu was inadequate to overpower Erdogan in the presidential race, raising questions about the Kurdish vote's potential to shift the electoral dynamics in favor of Kilicdaroglu. He added that the prevailing assumption is that the nationalist voters who decided to abandon Kilicdaroglu did not vote for Muharrem Ince because they believe he is a better candidate, but because he is the available option to gather votes for Kilicdaroglu.
Allouch explained that the voting bloc, which is set to elect Muharrem Ince in the initial round of the presidential elections, will not cast their vote in favor of Kilicdaroglu under any circumstances, as the ground behind their support for Ince stems from the alliance between the People's Democratic Party and Kilicdaroglu. He suggested that if “Kilicdaroglu wants to attract nationalist voters in a possible second round, he will need to provide a clear commitment that the HDP,” but he stressed that this would infuriate Kurdish voters, especially those who support the HDP. Thus, Allouch stressed that one can conclude that Kilicdaroglu's alliance with the HDP is beneficial, only if he can benefit from them in winning the elections in the first round.
Fate of the Kurdish vote in the second round
On March 3, Leader of Turkish Good Party Meral Aksener announced her withdrawal from "the table for 6" and her opposition to the nomination of Kemal Kilicdaroglu. She stressed that the opposition coalition no longer reflects the national will.
Allouch stressed that the Kurdish vote has played an important role in the runoff election, especially the HDP votes. However, he predicted that in a possible second round, the Kurdish vote may not be the decisive factor in the presidential elections. "The significance of the upcoming election will be determined by the allocation of nationalist votes to each candidate, namely Muharrem Ince of the Republican People's Party and Meral Aksener of the Good Party (IYI)."
He emphasized that the outcome of the election would depend on these votes in the second round, as well as on another significant voting bloc consisting of undecided voters who are monitoring the electoral scenario's development, whether in the first round or a potential second round. “In my opinion, the Kurdish vote will remain significant, but its significance will be more articulated if it can determine the election in favor of Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the first round. However, if we go to a second round, it will not be the decisive vote in determining or shifting the balance in favor of any candidate in these elections.”
Kurdish vote and the region
The Kurdish political situation is intertwined with the internal and regional Kurdish situation, according to Allouch, who explained further that the peace process Turkey initiated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party in 2013 led to a significant change in the Turkish conflict with the party and the Kurdish issue in general. However, he noted that the peace process between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers' Party collapsed after around two years from the peace agreement, particularly when the Kurdish separatist project intensified in northern Syria. "The escalation of the Kurdish separatist project in northern Syria motivated the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party to achieve what their Kurdish counterparts, the Kurdish units in northern Syria, have accomplished."
He further explained that in 2014, the Democratic Union Party, with the support of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, "initiated a rebellion against the state in areas with a Kurdish majority. This highlights the significant impact that the regional Kurdish situation, which was shaped by the developments in Syria between 2013 and 2015, had on the Kurdish issue in Turkey," which he explains led to the collapse of the peace process between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers' Party.
Moreover, he contends that the attainment of self-rule in Kurdish-majority areas is a key demand of the Democratic Union Party and the Kurdistan Workers' Party. He belives that this objective is essentially a replication of the self-rule model that the Kurds of northern Iraq have already established. In addition, he discussed the convergence between the approaches to the future Kurdish situation for Turkey and the Kurds of Iraq, adding that part of the Turkish conflict with the Kurdistan Workers' Party is also linked to the conflict with its branches in the region.
Allouch noted that Turkey has been carrying out military operations against the Kurdish People's Protection Units in northern Syria for years. He pointed out that a considerable portion of Turkey's military presence in the region is aimed at countering the "separatist project of the Kurdish People's Protection Units." He also highlighted the Turkish military role in Iraq, aimed at confronting the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which is an integral part of Turkey's domestic policy towards the Kurdish issue. He argued that the regional Kurdish situation is closely intertwined with the internal Kurdish political situation and its relationship with the Turkish state. Allouch concluded that these two factors combined have a significant impact on the domestic Kurdish political situation and its overall relationship with the Turkish state.
The Kurdish vote is considered a key variable that could determine the outcomes of both the governing and opposition coalitions. With HDP's pledge to support Kilicdaroglu, the electoral probabilities have shifted, and HDP's impact on the political landscape has become more significant. There are many possible outcomes, each pushing the country towards a different political direction.