Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly urged his political aides and party members to step up efforts and launch a new public relations campaign to increase votes in two southeastern provinces, Tunceli and Hakkari, where the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has not even a single deputy despite being widely represented throughout the rest of the country, in the next elections, Todays Zaman reported.
The AK Party has deputies from every province, including secularist enclaves along the western coast. The only two exceptions are Tunceli and Hakkari. Erdogan is set to launch a new ambitious campaign to get at least one deputy from Tunceli, which is represented by two deputies in Parliament.
The southeastern province of Tunceli is mainly home to a restive Kurdish-Alevi population, which has traditionally been inclined to support the Republican People's Party (CHP) in general and local elections as it sees the secular discourse of the main opposition party as a bulwark against the Sunni majority of the country.
Hakkari, on the other hand, is the bastion of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which receives a strong backing of the local electorate in both general and local elections.
The outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) also has a strong presence and derives support from the rural and mountainous areas of the province, where it sporadically engages in clashes with Turkish security forces.
According to close aides of Erdogan, the AK Party's new target is to be represented in both provinces in the next elections. The upcoming local elections in 2014 will be the first major test.
Erdogan will launch a massive campaign in the region to change the course of politics in the next elections, sources close to prime minister say.