Playing Politics in Turkey

Image source: An Academic Abroad https://theacademicabroad.wordpress.com

With general elections approaching in Turkey, the political atmosphere in the country is hotter than ever. In the last elections, ruling party AKP (Justice and Development Party) lost majority seats and the pro-Kurdish party HDP (People’s Democratic Party) gained 80 seats. As a result this caused the ruling party to align with the HDP, which they were reluctant to do. In response former prime minister and current president Erdogan called for early parliamentary elections, with the help of the AKP. With the date set for 1st November, this means that the HDP ministers will only remain in their position for 2 months.

 

On the other hand, clashes between PKK forces and Turkish security forces continue after the suicide bomb explosion in Suruç, in which 33 protesters died. The crowd included members of a leftist organization gathered in support of collecting toys for children in Kobane, Syria.

 

Consequently there are ongoing discussions about the security and safety of poll stations in the south-east region of the country. Some pro-governments columnists argue that if needed, poll stations can be moved to larger city centers and alongside the voters for security reasons. Or, if the safety of the election is in danger, they can even be cancelled.

 

 

Recent public opinion research suggests that the next election will not affect the current situation in the parliament. AKP is by far the biggest party with an estimated 40-42% of total votes. The main opposition party, CHP (Republican People Party, known for being Kemalist) has about 24-26%, MHP (Nationalists) about 15-16%, and HDP about 13-14%.

 

In last elections, Erol Dora, a lawyer from Istanbul, was the only Assyrian elected as MP, representing HDP, along with Garo Paylan, an Armenian human rights activist from HDP, and Selina Doğan from CHP. Dora may not be a candidate for the third time due to the code of conduct of the party. In the coming weeks, the party will make a decision about the future candidacy of similar MPs in the party, including the current co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş. It is believed that HDP will still assign seats for oppressed religious and ethnic minorities in parliament.

 

Clashes between PKK and Turkish security forces will dramatically affect the process of the elections, from the HDP point of view. Recent policies of president Erdoğan and ruling party AKP caused a consolidation of ethnic Kurds in HDP, especially after the battle of Kobane and the suspension of the peace process between the government and PKK. AKP has a hidden agenda of enforcing HDP to lose votes by increasing the tension between security forces and PKK, so they can’t pass the 10% threshold. If they fail to do so they have no chance to winning seats in parliament, allowing AKP to gain the majority required to ensure the presidency of Erdogan and change the constitution in accordance with their wishes. HDP is, to them, the unique obstacle that can prevent this. We’ll all have to wait until the 1st November to see how events unfold.

Ferit Altinsu
ADFA Representative – Turkey