Armenian politician vows to ‘oust’ leader of Turkey’s Liberal Party

Armenian politician vows to ‘oust’ leader of Turkey’s Liberal Party

Armenian politician vows to ‘oust’ leader of Turkey’s Liberal Party A young politician has set his eyes on becoming Turkey’s first Armenian party leader by “staging a coup” inside Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

The LDP’s Istanbul deputy candidate Arda Karapınar told Turkish news portal Radikal on May 28 that he is ready to replace the party’s seasoned chair, Cem Toker. 

“As [Armenians in Turkey] want an Armenian candidate, I promise that if they vote for me I will stage a coup against Cem Toker to become the first Armenian party chair in Turkish political history,” Karapınar said in remarks both bold and teasing.

He admits that it is highly unlikely that he will enter parliament after the June 7 parliamentary election due to the 10 percent national election threshold, as the tiny LDP was only able to score only 0.04 percent in the 2011 general election.

“My goal is not to enter parliament but to manage the country. It might not be with these elections and perhaps I will never be in power, but also I won’t be a tool of power,” he said.

“We find ethnic politics ugly. Such politics provoke all quarrels, but this does not change the fact that my ethnic origin is Armenian,” Karapınar added, stressing that his main ambition is to contribute to the transformation of Turkish politics by “making it more fun for the youth.”

“If the average age of parliamentarians is 60 in a country where the average age is 29, then politics must change,” he said.

Gezi criticism to HDP

Karapınar became well-known for his tweets supporting the massive Gezi Park protests in 2013, which were mainly led by the youth. Speaking to Radikal, he criticized the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which now portrays itself as pro-Gezi, for actually condemning the protests in the early days of anti-government activism.

“[HDP Co-Chair Selahattin] Demirtaş had somehow labelled the Gezi protests as ‘a quest to undermine Kurdish politics,’” Karapınar said, noting that the HDP’s stance changed to support Gezi after its politicians later visited the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“The real owner of the popular demands voiced during the early days of the Gezi protests is neither Demirtaş or Sırrı Süreyya [Önder, a HDP politician], but it the ordinary citizen Mehmet, who left his apartment [near Istanbul’s Taksim Square] wearing his slippers and was exposed to police tear gas,” the LDP hopeful added.