Analysts revealed that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) launched an unofficial war on Kurdish forces last month as a ploy to make up for its historic failure in June elections – but new polls on Friday show Erdogan may have shot himself in the foot ahead of snap elections.
After an Islamic State (ISIS) suicide bombing against Kurdish activists in Turkey last month, several Kurdish militants conducted attacks on police, given that Turkey has cooperated with ISIS. Erdogan leaped on the events by launching a two-pronged crackdown against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), breaking off peace talks with the militant group and leaving hundreds dead, as well as a campaign against ISIS that has yet to truly materialize.
But a new poll by Gezici shows that despite the attempts to take on the Kurds after its failure in the last elections – particularly vis-a-vis a pro-Kurdish party – the Islamist AKP has only lost power since the June 7 elections even as the pro-Kurdish party gains support.
AKP currently has just 38.9% support, an even lower figure than the 40.7% it received in the election, reports Reuters.
The June 7 election was the first time the AKP had lost its majority since 2002 when it came to power. Attempts to form a coalition have failed, setting the stage for a snap repeat election on November 1 – which according to the new poll will see AKP lose even more power.
Analysts have predicted that Turkey's anti-Kurdish crackdown was meant to force new elections after the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) scored a huge victory in the recent elections, winning 13% of the poll and 80 seats thanks to support from non-Kurdish voters who they stole away from Erdogan.
Interestingly, the new poll places the HDP as strengthening even further and gaining 13.5% support, despite Erdogan's crackdown.
AKPs main opposition, the secular CHP party, continues to strengthen as well, jumping from 25.1% in the elections to 27.8%, while the nationalist MHP party dropped ever so slightly from 16.5% to 16.3%.
The Gezici poll was conducted earlier this week in 36 provinces, with 4,860 Turks taking part.
Marc Pierini, visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, last month told AFP that Erdogan's attempts to link ISIS and the PKK in "the 'global war on terror narrative' also dilutes the internal political difficulty after the elections. The temptation of a re-run of the election is very high."
Commentor Cengiz Candar wrote in the Radikal online newspaper that Erdogan wanted to taint the HDP by associating it with the PKK. "The battle with terror is a pretext. The aim is revenge for June 7," he wrote.