Kurds could be kingmakers in Erdoğan’s attempts to get re-elected

The votes of Turkey’s Kurds will play a pivotal role in the presidential election in 2023, analyst Burak Bekdil said in an article he penned for the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies on Monday.

With votes for pro-Kurdish parties increasing from 4.1 percent to 13.1 percent between 1994 and 2015 and the election races closely poised, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would need support from a sizable part of the country’s Kurdish population to get re-elected in the next presidential election, Bekdil said.

"These numbers suggest that Kurds could be the kingmakers in Turkey’s presidential election in 2023," he said.

Under Turkey’s current system, more than 50 percent of the vote is needed to be elected to the country’s highest office.

Kurdish voters already played a crucial role in Istanbul's opposition mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu's local election victory, a major blow for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Erdoğan, whose ascent to power started when he was elected the city’s mayor in 1994.

However, Erdoğan has tied himself to nationalists by allying with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) amid renewed fighting between militants and security forces in Kurdish cities following the June 2015 parliamentary elections. Thus, he will need his nationalist ally’s strong support to win the presidential election again.

"And that will come at a cost: more and more Kurdish voters, increasingly urban and well-educated, do not see a future in Erdoğan’s Turkey," Bekdil said.