BDP results good but we must work hard: Demirtaş

Report by KT Correspondent in Amed (Diyarbakir):

Crowds watch results on screen outside BDP HQ, Amed

Supporters watch live results on screen outside BDP HQ, Amed

BDP co-chairman Selahattin Demirtaş told a press conference this morning that yesterday’s local election results were good for the BDP in north Kurdistan, adding that the party needs to work hard for the upcoming presidential and general elections.

The BDP made some significant advances in Kurdistan, winning control of three more cities – Ağrı, Bitlis and Merdin – and about 30 more local councils. In Merdin, the new mayor, Ahmet Türk, was forced to run as an independent candidate because of a state ban and he secured 52% of the votes. The BDP captured the local administration in Bitlis for the first time, getting 44 % of the votes, and also winning the local municipalities there of Hizan, Mutki, Güroymak and Ahlat.

In Amed (Dyarbakir), BDP co-mayoral candidates Gültan Kışanak and Firat Anli won by a big margin, although the party’s vote was not up on 2009. Thousands gathered outside the local BDP offices as soon as polling closed and celebrated into the night.

Crows celebrate

BDP mayoral co-candidate Firat Anli (right) checks early results at party HQ

BDP mayoral co-candidate Firat Anli (right) checks early results at party HQ, with a framed photo of jailed  PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in the background

The party did not win three of its targets – Urfa, Bingol and Mus – and, overall, the results were not the spectacular success supporters were hoping for. But the BDP vote went up.

In western Turkey, the HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) ran a campaign parallel to the BDP as an alliance of Kurds and other oppressed groups. This was badly squeezed by the sharp polarisation of voters between the ruling AKP and the main opposition CHP. In the Istanbul mayoral election, the HDP got 4.1%. The new party also suffered from voter unfamiliarity and a campaign of violence and intimidation against it in several Black Sea towns. The result places a question mark over the HDP project, an experiment that has not been supported by all Kurdish activists.

Selahattin Demirtaş struck a positive but sober note today, telling journalists: “The public has given us a message – to work hard for the next elections”.

The big winner in Turkey is the increasingly authoritarian prime minister Erdogan whose ruling AKP took 43% of the votes. He immediately vowed to go after his enemies and will probably need to focus initially on Gulenists in the state apparatus who recently turned against him. Meanwhile the Kurdish freedom movement will prepare its next moves in a decades-long struggle for constitutional recognition and justice.

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