Struggling for the Kurdish vote: religion, ethnicity and victimhood in AKP and BDP/HDP rally speeches
Middle Eastern Studies
289 - 303
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This study explores the competition for Turkey's Kurdish vote through the instrumentalization of religion, ethnicity and victimhood in political competition. This becomes possible through the study of rally speeches of the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi – AKP), the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (Barış ve Demokrasi Partisi – BDP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (Halkların Demokratik Partisi – HDP), in Turkey's June 2011 and June 2015 general elections. The AKP campaigns framed the resolution of the Kurdish issue along with an updated version of the ‘Turkish Islamic Synthesis’. The issue of ethnicity was toned down in contrast to the idea of common victimhood of pious Turkish and Kurdish Muslims in republican Turkey. On the other hand, the BDP/HDP moved from a more ethnic-oriented and exclusive identity approach in 2011 to a more inclusive, liberal and extrovert agenda based on a civic definition of Turkish national identity in 2015. Religion and victimhood appear as the two most enduring symbolic resources for political party mobilization.