News / Middle East

Turkey's Pro-Kurdish Candidate Eyes Historic Threshold

Supporters listen to Turkish Kurdish presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas as he makes address in Mersin, Turkey, July 31, 2014.
Supporters listen to Turkish Kurdish presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas as he makes address in Mersin, Turkey, July 31, 2014.
Dorian Jones

Thousands turned out at a Sunday rally in Istanbul to hear Selahattin Demirtas, leader of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP), campaign for president.

Addressing the crowd with calls for peace, inclusiveness and democracy, Demirtas, analysts say, has mastered the skill of holding together rival factions of the pro-Kurdish movement.

A charismatic and skilled politician, the 41-year-old has reaching beyond his usual voting base, leading some analysts to think his campaign could affect outcome of the first-round vote on August 10.

According to Sinan Ulgen of the Brussels-based Carnegie Institute, although opinion polls put Demirtas far behind the two other candidates, his ability to reach an unusually broad swath of the Turkish electorate — his campaign has been resolutely focused on a message of inclusiveness and warnings against sectarian divides — he may have a particularly adverse impact on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's presidential bid.

Erdogan is seeking to win the presidential election outright in the first round with 50 percent plus one of the votes.

If no candidate achieves this, a run-off election will be held two weeks later.

"The Kurdish vote will be important for Erdogan," said Ulgen. "Selahattin Demirtas is a good candidate, and therefore in the first round the Kurdish vote is likely to go to their own candidate. So Erdogan will not be able to get as high a Kurdish vote as he would like."

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Erdogan's chief rival, is backed by the main opposition center-left Republican People’s Party and the far right National Action Party.

"Problems of sectarianism in Iraq and Syria also exist here, and the prime minister is paving the way for more divisions," Demirtas told the crowd on Sunday, adding that he although stands for greater human humans, along with advocating expanded rights for women and workers, the danger of sectarian division poses the biggest threat.

Polls show Demirtas could take around 10 percent of the vote, higher than his party's usual six percent. But the candidate is handicapped by limited financial resources and restricted media exposure. According to official figures in the first few days of the campaign, Turkey's state broadcaster gave him a few minutes of air time compared with over 300 minutes for Prime Minister Erdogan.

Demirtas on Sunday mocked the state broadcaster for its "fair and scrupulously unbiased coverage," and the sarcasm went viral on Turkish social media. For Turkish campaign politics, it's viewed by many as a fresh approach.

"It's important to vote for Demirtas because he is fighting for democracy and human rights for everyone," said one Turkish student at the rally, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "He will represent all sections of society."

With s strong following among the young, analysts say Demirtas may be able attract some of those who participated in last year’s anti-government protests known as the Gezi movement.

Demirtas's HDP party has been struggling to be seen as more than just an ethnic and human rights movement. If his campaign secures a significantly higher than usual vote for the party — and if it secures votes beyond traditionally pro-Kurdish areas — some analysts think the campaign may achieve a historically important step across Turkey's ethnically defined electoral divide.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: richard jones from: usa
August 05, 2014 8:20 AM
How sad a good political candidate & no one even notices.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More