An aide to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has associated the high percentage of support for the party of opposition presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in the predominantly Kurdish provinces of Turkey’s southeast with Kılıçdaroğlu’s alleged links to a terrorist group.
Ayhan Ogan, an advisor to Erdoğan, shared a chart on Twitter on Tuesday that showed the percentage of votes Kılıçdaroğlu’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) received in the predominantly Kurdish provinces in the general elections of 2018 and 2023, the latest of which was held on May 14.
The chart shows a record increase in the percentage of votes the CHP received in provinces such as Ardahan, Ağrı, Iğdır, Van, Muş, Hakkari and Bitlis, provinces where the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is influential.
Sayın Kılıçdaroğlu vatanseverdir PKK ile ne alakası var canım pic.twitter.com/UwakW6j23K
— Ayhan Ogan (@ayhan_ogan) May 23, 2023
“Mr Kılıçdaroğlu is a patriot, what does he have to do with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK],” Ogan tweeted, implying that the significant support for the CHP in the southeast stems from Kılıçdaroğlu’s sympathy for the PKK, which has been waging a bloody campaign in the country’s southeast since 1984 and is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.
Although the HDP is not part of the opposition alliance that nominated Kılıçdaroğlu as their joint presidential candidate against President Erdoğan, who is seeking re-election, the party did not field its own presidential candidate and decided to support Kılıççdaroğlu to increase his chances of unseating Erdoğan.
Erdoğan and Kılıçdaroğlu, who both failed on May 14 to surpass the 50 percent threshold, will compete in a runoff election on Sunday, when the candidate receiving the highest percentage of the nationwide vote will be elected president.
Erdoğan and party officials have been accusing the CHP and Kılıçdaroğlu of collaborating with the PKK due to the HDP support for Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy. In the run-up to the presidential election, Erdoğan even showed his supporters at a big campaign rally in İstanbul on May 7 a manipulated version of a video clip of the CHP’s election song that showed senior PKK leader Murat Karayılan and other militants clapping their hands and backing Kılıçdaroğlu, which brought Erdoğan harsh criticism for lying to his voters and trying to defame the opposition with fake videos.
The HDP, which faces a closure case due to its alleged links to the PKK, denies any connection to the terrorist group and says it is working for the expansion of the rights and freedoms of the country’s Kurds.
As he sought to secure the HDP’s support, Kılıçdaroğlu promised to address the country’s long-standing Kurdish issue in parliament.
The Kurdish issue, a term prevalent in Turkey’s public discourse, refers to the demand for equal rights by the country’s Kurdish population and their struggle for recognition.