Nergis Demirkaya/ DUVAR

Pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Sezai Temelli claimed that research indicates the national support for the ‘Operation Peace Spring’ in northeastern Syria remained at around 60 percent, considerably lower than the 85 percent that supported last year’s Operation Olive Branch in the Afrin district of Syria.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s support has dropped to under 35%, yet the presidential system that went into effect following last year’s general elections does not allow the possibility of a democratic opening, said Temelli talking to reporters in Ankara on Oct. 30.

“The AKP has been subject to failures for quite some time now. Politically they cannot control things inside or outside of the country. The latest episode in Syria was a serious failure. Their domestic politics are like that as well, there is an increase in pressure and an understanding of power that seeks to normalize the state of emergency-esque order. This is not sustainable and everybody knows it,” Temelli told. 

Turkey’s parliamentary system was transformed into an executive presidential system following a referendum campaign backed heavily by Erdoğan, who attained extensive powers after the system went into effect last year. Critics maintain that the system is a further push toward one-man rule, and have said that the AKP and Erdoğan are essentially one in the same, with most of Erdoğan’s co-founders and former allies distancing themselves from the party and the president. Key ex-AKP politicians including Former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Economy Minister Ali Babacan are forming their own opposition parties.

Prior to this year’s local elections, the AKP had stripped dozens of HDP mayors from their posts, and on Oct. 29, the country’s republic holiday, it removed the 13th HDP mayor from office this year, from the southeastern province of Cizre. 

“It eliminates areas that reflect the political preference of the people, and they do this in patricular in Kurdish [majority] provinces and to the Kurdish people,” Temelli said. The previous mayor of the southeastern province of Mardin, Ahmet Türk, was stripped from his post in 2016 after having won the 2014 local election. Türk ran again in this year’s local elections and won, and was again removed from his office by the government.