Kurds are ‘most committed naysayers’ in run up to Turkey referendum

Abdulkadir Selvi, columnist at Turkish daily Hurriyet and known for his close ties with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), says that the Kurds are the most committed naysayers in the run up to the constitutional reform referendum.

In his column on Tuesday, Selvi wrote, “the Kurds vote for two parties: the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the Justice and Development Party (AKP). The imprisonment of HDP deputies has pushed the party’s base firmly into the ‘no’ camp.”

Signalling to a strategy change by the AKP, Selvi claimed, “President Erdogan is constantly rethinking his campaign strategy. The president had previously said that ‘those saying ‘no’ were the HDP, PKK and FETO [the Gulenist movement]’ which led to criticism. The president has now softened his discourse.”

“Rather than showing the naysayers as being in the same camp as terrorist organisations, the president has asked for their support. Instead of using what could be perceived as offensive language, a more inclusive rhetoric is being adopted,” Selvi wrote.

Abdulkadir Selvi’s columns are seen by many in Turkey as indicators of AKP policy and are closely followed by analysts and politicians alike to gauge the government’s policy direction.

The people of Turkey will go to the ballot box on 16 April to cast their votes on the constitutional reform package that was approved by President Erdogan on 10 February.

With the country deeply polarised according to recent polls, neither the yes camp nor the no camp is able to announce a significant lead.