‘Referendum won by cheating’ says Turkey’s opposition HDP lawmaker

HDP Sanliurfa lawmaker and spokesperson Osman Baydemir.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker and spokesperson, Osman Baydemir, has told BBC Turkish that the recent referendum on constitutional change was won by cheating, while stressing the impossibility of building democracy in Turkey without the HDP.

“A system that excludes Kurds will face problems of legitimacy,” Baydemir said.

“Whenever the ballots open in this country, no one can be elected without the consent of the Kurds. Once again, the Kurds and the HDP will play a key role [in building democracy].”

The HDP lawmaker said that while his party is one of struggle, it is also a solution-oriented party, and that their doors were open to anyone who is willing to relaunch the solution process of the Kurdish question.

“Our call is directed to everyone. It’s time you renounce enmity towards the Kurds, the politics of war and the state of emergency regime,” he said, adding that solutions are not one-sided and that all circles must show willingness to reach a solution.

Analysts had pointed out that the least pro-AKP areas in Turkey’s Kurdish dominated southeast showed the greatest increase in pro-AKP, i.e. ‘yes’ vote, in the referendum compared to the 2015 November general elections.

Some of the greatest swings in favour of the government’s ‘yes’-side occurred in provinces worst affected by the clashes between security forces and Kurdish militias affiliated to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Osman Baydemir said the result stemmed from the fact that at least 500,000 internally displaced were unable to vote. “There was also a great pressure,” he added, asking, “And how many security personnel have been moved to the area since November 2015?” A suggestion that security personnel had voted en-masse for the ‘yes’ camp.

The lawmaker also said that 24 million people had voted ‘no’ in the referendum and rejected claims that HDP voters had changed their vote in Kurdish-dominated southeastern Turkey. “I will say this very clearly, the referendum was won by cheating,” Baydemir emphasised.

Most of the Kurdish areas saw decreases in votes cast although no data or information regarding the displaced citizens and if they were given the chance to vote elsewhere is available.