Özer Sencar, the founder of Metropoll polling company, has said that a significant percentage of Kurds would abandon the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK) in a case of a closure of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).
“Currently, 25 percent of Kurds are voting for the AKP. If the HDP is closed, the AKP might lose at least 5 percent of Kurdish votes,” he told Deutsche Welle's Turkish service on June 22.
Kurds are believed to make up about 18 percent of Turkey's population, corresponding to a figure of 14 million out of 78 million. A 5 percent loss of Kurdish votes would mean a count of 700,000.
If the HDP is closed and authorities do not allow Kurdish politicians to form a new party, then the party's voters would either shift to the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) or choose not to vote at all in the upcoming elections, Sencar said.
In a second scenario, if Kurdish politicians are not banned from politics, then the new party that they would form would attract the existing voter base of the HDP, Sencar said. On top of that, the newly formed party would even gain the votes of the 5 percent Kurds who will no longer vote for the AKP, according to Sencar.
“The HDP voter base would not scatter. The new [pro-Kurdish] party would even get the support of the voters who will have protested the HDP's closure...Therefore the AKP would fare worse,” Sencar said.
Sencar said that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is under heavy pressure from his ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli to close the HDP, although he does not in fact favor such a move.
“There is a severe insistence of the MHP. I am not of the opinion that Erdoğan will want to close the party,” he said.
Sencar also said that moves targeting the HDP aim to rouse nationalist tendencies within the CHP and İYİ (Good) Party and prevent a possible alliance among the opposition.
“Sixty percent of İYİ Party voters support the HDP's closure. Prior to the closure case, we have determined that attacks against the HDP were undertaken to affect İYİ Party voters and prevent the party from getting closer to Kurds,” he said.
Turkish Constitutional Court on June 21 accepted an indictment filed by a senior prosecutor seeking a ban on the HDP for alleged ties to militants, opening the way for a case to close parliament's third-largest party.
The case is the culmination of a years-long crackdown on the HDP, in which thousands of its members have been tried on mainly terrorism-related charges. The party denies links to terrorism and has said the case is a "political operation."