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

Video Anti-Muslim Sponsor of Texas Cartoon Contest Draws Ire

Pamela Geller's supporters say she speaks truth about sensitive topic, while critics say she preaches 'that Islam is inherently evil' More

East Meets West in Exhibition Showing Chinese Influence on Fashion

Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition juxtaposes influence of art, imagery and culture, from Imperial China to the present day, on Western fashion and design More

South Africa Begins New Love Affair With Vinyl Records

Enthusiasts say the 'rebirth' of vinyl is resulting in a rebirth of music in South Africa 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.
Abraham Lincoln Funeral Re-created for 150th Civil War Anniversaryi
X
May 05, 2015 2:11 AM
Over the last four years, commemorative events to mark the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War have brought thousands of visitors to battlefields and historic landmarks across the country. As VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, the final event in the Civil War's sesquicentennial honors the final journey home of the slain American President, Abraham Lincoln.
Video

Video Abraham Lincoln Funeral Re-created for 150th Civil War Anniversary

Over the last four years, commemorative events to mark the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War have brought thousands of visitors to battlefields and historic landmarks across the country. As VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, the final event in the Civil War's sesquicentennial honors the final journey home of the slain American President, Abraham Lincoln.
Video

Video WWII Anniversary Brings Old Friends and New Worries

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II has special significance, with Russia becoming more assertive in Ukraine and sending its military planes to the edges of western countries’ airspace. Changes in the geostrategic balance and the transatlantic relationship are felt across the continent, not least in German towns that have hosted U.S. military bases since the defeat of Nazi Germany. VOA’s Al Pessin visited Schweinfurt, Germany, where a large base closed last year.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs