Turkey: Elected mayor from pro-Kurdish party sees victory cancelled

A candidate for mayor of the pro-Kurdish Party of the Equality of Peoples and Democracy (DEM) elected by a large majority in the Turkish municipalities of Sunday (31.324) in Van, eastern, saw his election cancelled. As announced today Tuesday (2.4.24) the DEM is placed in its place as mayor the candidate of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). “We reject the decision of the province’s electoral committee Van to hand over to the AKP candidate the mandate for the Mayorship of the Van Registerary Municipality,” the DEM announced, which is now a third political force in the Grand Turkish National Assembly. Abdullah Zeidan was elected with 55.48% of the vote in Van, where the majority of residents are Kurds and located near the border with Iran, against 27.15% of his main opponent from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP. According to the DEM, which denounces a “illegal” decision, the electoral committee questioned Zeidan’s political rights on Friday, less than 48 hours before the municipal elections. The pro-Kurdish party argued for its part that its candidate “fully fulfilled all the required legal procedures and received the ratification of its nomination by the High Election Commission (YSK)”. Hundreds of his supporters gathered in front of the party’s headquarters in Van to express their solidarity with Zeidan, according to photographs from the Turkish news agency DHA. DEM called a press conference in front of the election committee’s headquarters in Ankara. The leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), a party of the main opposition that emerged as a winner in Sunday’s municipal election, denounced a decision that is “against the will of Van residents”. Elected MP under the HDP’s “significance” (now DEM) in 2015, Abdullah Zeidan was arrested in 2016 along with about ten other members of his party. Authorities accused him of attending funerals of members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an organization described as terrorist by Ankara and its western allies, which the Turkish government accuses of ties with the main pro-Kurdish party in Turkey. After being imprisoned, Zeidan was released in early 2022. About 50 mayors elected in 2019 supported by the HDP in southeastern Turkey were replaced by administrative workers appointed by the Turkish state. Those Turkish state movements under Erdogan’s presidency had sparked tensions in the region and strong reactions from the West.