Turkish PM gains votes in east amid fight against Islamic preacher

Prof. Coskun says that Kurds will choose AK party in preference to the Gulen movement

Prof. Coskun says that Kurds will choose AK party in preference to the Gulen movement

ANKARA - Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan increased his popular support in the mostly Kurdish-populated east and southeast provinces amid the fight against the movement led by US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, said Vahap Coskun, a professor of law at Dicle University in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir.

Coskun noted that the Kurdish people generally do not choose a particular side in the conflict between Erdogan's Justice and Development (AK) Party and the Gulen movement, however, he said that "should they make a preference between the two, Kurds will surely prefer the AK Party."

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Coskun said that while the government represents a political structure against which the means to challenge and negotiate are clear, the Gulen movement is a closed structure that creates a perception of threat for people. 

"Besides, Kurdish people know that the Gulen movement is against the Kurdish solution process, and it is known that the recent lawsuits against Kurdish activists and politicians have been conducted by those in the judiciary and police who are Gulen-linked," added Coskun. 

Professor Coskun maintained that the December 17 anti-graft operations, contrary to claims, contributed to AK Party's popular support. 

"Against these operations, Erdogan focused on two themes. Firstly, he combined his fate with that of his supporters and claimed that if he is to be deposed then they would suffer the outcome. Secondly, he asserted that the Kurdish solution process would fail without him," said Coskun claiming that the majority of his supporters are convinced by this argument. 

Coskun added: "Indeed, no opposition leader could propose a roadmap for the Kurdish solution process as Erdogan and the AK Party have. Neither the CHP (Republican People Party) leader nor the MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) leader could say that they would continue negotiations with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Ocalan in a post-Erdogan Turkey. Thus, the electorate received the message from PM Erdogan that it would be really difficult to talk about advances in the Kurdish solution process without him."

 Coskun said that the AK Party's role in the solution process has contributed to the popular support in the region even though the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) may get a significant amount of votes in the eastern and southeastern provinces of Turkey. He also noted that the recent amendment which enables all districts including villages on the borders of metropolitan areas to vote for a metropolitan mayor contributed to the popularity of BDP's position in the region. 

"In Diyarbakir, one of the biggest metropolitan Turkish southeastern provinces, the solution process will increase the votes of the AK Party," said Coskun. "But since all surrounding districts will also be able to vote for the mayor of Diyarbakir, and since this electorate is highly supportive of the BDP, it will make it impossible for AK Party to win. The case is true for Mardin and Van as well."  

Coskun stated the results of the last election show that there was such a huge difference in favor of the AK Party in Sanliurfa and that it will be nearly impossible for the BDP to catch up there.

He stated that while he expects the AK Party to get a 42-47 percent vote in the local elections on March 30, a rate below 40 percent would bring new political challenges for instance the possibility of early general elections in Turkey.

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