Erdoğan’s rhetoric against Kurds led AKP to lose İstanbul, deputy chair implies

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AKP's deputy chair Azmi Ekinci with President and AKP chair Erdoğan.

The deputy chairman of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has implied that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s belligerent rhetoric against Kurds during the campaign for the March local elections led them lose in İstanbul.

Speaking to the pro-government Star daily, Azmi Ekinci, who is responsible for party organization, said Kurdish voters would have supported Binali Yıldırım, the party’s candidate for İstanbul mayor, if no one had said, “Go to Kurdistan.”

After Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chair Sezai Temelli said his party would win in the Kurdistan region, President Erdoğan in February reacted angrily, saying that there was no region in Turkey called Kurdistan.

“What does he say? ‘We will win in Kurdistan.’ Please leave Turkey, then. There is a Kurdistan region in Iraq. You can go there. But in Turkey, I have no such region,” Erdoğan said at a rally in Giresun province.

Ekinci also said during the campaign that he was challenged more by AKP supporters than opposition voters, referring to the country’s economic problems.

Their supporters were complaining about the arrogance of some AKP officials amidst an economic crisis, he said.

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