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Kurdish Votes in the June 24, 2018 Elections: An Analysis of Electoral Results in Turkey’s Eastern Cities

This article analyzes the voting patterns in eastern Turkey for the June 24, 2018 elections and examines the cross-sectional and longitudinal variation in 24 eastern cities where Kurdish votes tend to matter significantly. Based on the regional and district level electoral data, the article has four major conclusions. Firstly, the AK Party and the HDP are still the two dominant parties in Turkey’s east. Secondly, HDP votes took a downward direction in the November 2015 elections in eastern Turkey after the peak results in the June 2015 elections, a trend which continued in the June 24 elections. Thirdly, the pre-electoral coalitions of other parties in the June 24 elections cost the HDP seats in the region. Finally, neither the Kurdish votes nor the eastern votes move in the form of a homogenous bloc but intra-Kurdish and intra-regional differences prevail.

Kurdish Votes in the June 24 2018 Elections An Analysis
Voters from the province of Hakkari, a city with a Kurdish majority in the southeastern part of Turkey, cast their votes during the June 24 elections. MEHMET DAYAN / AA Photo
 

This article analyzes Kurdish votes specifically for the June 24, 2018 elections by first addressing the political landscape in eastern and southeastern Turkey before these elections. It further elaborates on the pre-electoral status of the main actors of ethnic Kurdish politics -the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR) and other small ethnic parties. Then the paper discusses the election results in the eastern and southeastern provinces where there is a high population density of Kurds. The June 24, 2018 elections were actually comprised of two elections: parliamentary and presidential. While this article addresses both elections, it primarily focuses on the general election results.

The elections held on June 24, 2018 made a lasting impact on the political life of Turkey. In a sense, this election was the most significant election in the history of Turkey since the first multi-party and democratic1 general elections held in 1950. Turkey, which underwent the democratization process with the 1950 elections, decided to transform the system with the referendum of 2017 and made the actual transition from a parliamentary system to a presidential system with the June 24 elections.

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