In brief

HDP regains control of main Kurdish cities despite state repression

President Erdogan’s AKP loses Ankara, might be also defeated in Istanbul as tight count goes on

Selçuk Mızraklı and Hülya Alökmen Uyanık, HDP 'ticket' that has won the election in Amed.
Selçuk Mızraklı and Hülya Alökmen Uyanık, HDP 'ticket' that has won the election in Amed. Author: Kadın Adayları Destekleme Derneği @ Twitter
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP, Kurdish left) regained control of the main cities of North Kurdistan in the local elections held in Turkey 31 March. HDP claimed victory in Amed (Diyarbakir), Mardin, Batman, Van, Siirt, and Hakkari. In those cities, the Kurdish left-wing movement had won in the 2014 election — at that time standing as BDP— but in 2016 their mayors were dismissed and arrested under the accusation of having ties with the PKK, which HDP denied.

HDP also managed to retain the municipality of Igdir, besides emerging the largest party in Kars, where MHP (far-right Turkish nationalist) had won in 2014.

HDP candidates have pledged to reverse decisions against the collective rights of the Kurdish people and against the rights of women in municipalities where they will be regaining control after Turkish authorities imposed state-appointed trustees since 2016. However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hinted that Turkey could again dismiss HDP elected mayors and re-enforce trustees.

On the other hand, HDP was unable to regain the municipality of Sirnak, where a complete reversal took place as Erdogan’s AKP (conservative Islamism, Turkish nationalism) won the election. HDP MP Hüseyin Kaçmaz complained that the Turkish state had registered thousands of soldiers in Sirnak’s election roll in order to alter results in the city.

HDP was also unable to regain Dersim (Tunceli), as the candidate of the Communist Party (TKP), Fatih Mehmet Maçoğlu, claimed victory.

HDP’s voting share —even where the party has won— has diminished if compared with that obtained five years ago in the same municipalities. Between the two elections, the party has suffered a number of repressive measures after the 2016 coup, including the arrest and imprisonment of party co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yüksekdag since November 2016.

AKP loses Ankara

Erdogan’s AKP faced defeat in several cities, including the Turkish capital Ankara, where the candidate of the CHP-İYİ alliance (social democrats and conservatives, both Turkish nationalists), Mansur Yavaş, emerged as the winner. In Istanbul, where a very tight count was still going on on Monday 1 April, it looked feasible that AKP could lose the election too. If confirmed, this would be a milestone defeat, since Islamist parties have been holding the city’s municipality since 1994.