The HDP’s inclusion in the “Nation Alliance” would have run against the grain. An electoral alliance that includes the Good Party naturally enough excludes the HDP. The reverse applies, too: The Good Party could not be in an alliance that includes the HDP. This is painful and is upsetting, but is the reality of the opposition in the Turkey of our day. Had the HDP been taken into the alliance, the ruling party would have been equipped with a useful counterpropaganda opportunity in the parliamentary and presidential elections to attract the right-wing votes allergic to the HDP.
But there is another truth: First the HDP and then the Kurdish vote in general hold the key to the 24 June 2018 snap elections.
If the HDP does not surmount the ten per cent electoral threshold in the parliamentary elections, the “People’s Alliance” appears all but certain to attain the majority. Hence, the “Nation Alliance” must, even if unable to enter an electoral alliance with the HDP, wish for this party to surmount the electoral threshold and re-enter parliament.
If the presidential election goes to a second round, the HDP will be the key party for a second time. The answer to the question of whether the door to the opposition candidate’s presidency can be opened with this key will depend on who this candidate is and, at the same time, on the conditions prevailing in the country after 24 June.
Consequently, their own interests dictate that the parties belonging to the “Nation Alliance” develop good relations with the HDP, which they were unable to admit to their midst for realpolitik reasons, and its base. Without doubt, the most active, most creative and most advantageous position in this regard is occupied by the CHP’s presidential candidate Muharrem İnce: He has visited the HDP’s imprisoned candidate Selahattin Demirtaş and has held a rally and conveyed warm messages in Hakkâri. This was a good and correct beginning.
Isn’t it curious? The HDP held the key to the 7 June 2015 General Elections and now once more holds the key three years on.
Think of what has happened over these three years.
First the “non-conflict period” ended. Then state authority, having been rocked with the ditches the PKK dug, was re-established with the “positive reply” elicited by the solicitation the ruling party’s new de-facto partner Devlet Bahçeli made in April 2016 of “leave no stones standing, leave no heads on shoulders.”
Moves were launched for the HDP’s actual liquidation prior to the 16 April 2017 Constitutional Referendum.
Parliamentary immunities were lifted in May 2016; Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş was imprisoned in November 2016; it was wished to make him pay the price for the slogan, “We will see to it that you are not president” in the form of his still continuing imprisonment. Many HDP parliamentarians have been detained, released and redetained. Curators have been appointed to municipalities and mayors have been imprisoned. Thousands of HDP administrators and supporters are currently in prison charged with terrorist organisation membership. Despite all these disciplinary measures, the HDP has once more come before the electorate as the key-holding party.
Selahattin Demirtaş is in jail but is one more his party’s presidential candidate.
The HDP’s claim to be a “party of Turkey” conveyed the party’s desire under Selahattin Demirtaş’s leadership to turn into a true political actor. Another slogan in which this desire found expression was “We will see to it that you are not president.” The surmounting by the HDP of the unconscionable and immoral ten per cent electoral threshold in the 7 June and 1 November 2015 general elections to enable it to enter parliament was thanks to Demirtaş’s claim of being a party of Turkey and the “We will see to it that you are not president” slogan. Under conditions in which the non-conflict period gave way to conflict in the summer of 2015, the HDP’s claim to be a party of Turkey was palpably incapable of reaping its just reward and it lacked the strength for this even if the wish existed. Despite this disadvantage, the party once more managed to surmount the threshold in the 1 November 2015 “repeat elections” and enter parliament.
As to today, there is no obstacle originating from within to the HDP maintaining its claim to be a party of Turkey. Indeed, in the electoral manifestos it announced yesterday, they said, “We are a party of Turkey” and adopted a stance that promised left-leaning solutions for the whole country’s problems. Demirtaş said in a statement published in BirGün newspaper the day before yesterday, “The HDP is neither pro-Kurdish nor pro-Turkish. It must be stated most definitely that the it is not the PKK’s representative, either. The HDP is the representative of the peoples and individuals who vote for it.”
If the HDP convinces the electorate in the west of the country, it may manage to repeat its successes of 2015 on 24 June, despite the negative factors that engulf it and the severe pressure on it.