Demirtaş: HDP’s target is to become main opposition party

Demirtaş: HDP’s target is to become main opposition party

Cansu Çamlıbel ISTANBUL / Hürriyet
Demirtaş: HDP’s target is to become main opposition party

HDP’s co-chair and presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş (L) speaks to daily Hürriyet reporter Cansu Çamlıbel.

In an interview with Cansu Çamlıbel from daily Hürriyet, co-chair of People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş said they would be the main opposition in 2015 and government in 2019.

Since the HDP has not been able to pass the 10 percent threshold in any election in Turkey, Demirtaş was asked how this would reflect on Turkish politics if he gains more than 10 percent of the votes in the presidential elections.

He said, “First, it would highlight the meaninglessness of the threshold. There would be no point in the government’s insistence on the threshold. Turkey will see that in Turkey, not only Kurds but Turkish democrats, Alevis, women’s and green movements, belief movements can unite and easily form a main opposition. Right now, the Republican People’s Party [CHP] has undertaken the duty of the main opposition and we do not think it is doing an adequate job.”

When asked if they were running for the main opposition Demirtaş said “Yes,” adding, “In the first election, we may reach the position of being the main opposition. This is no longer difficult from our point of view. The votes we obtain in the presidential elections and the success we achieve will confirm this. This is an opportunity for 2015, but the true target is of course to become a strong democratic power alternative to the Justice and Development Party [AKP]. We may not be able to achieve this in 2015, but if this movement continues as such, in 2019, this movement will absolutely be the only alternative to replace the AKP.”

About his vision as the HDP’s presidential candidate, Demirtaş said they were not after an ambition of creating a new Turkey, but carrying the existing Turkey to power: “Actually, there is a Turkey ready to live in fraternity within democratic relationships. This sentiment exists both in the streets and in the neighborhoods. We want to carry this to the political platform. We do not have social engineering projects from top to bottom. We have no misleading discourse as ‘a new page will be opened if we are elected.’ We will try to build a new state and a new governance mentality; otherwise, there is no need to build a new society. The society is the correct one; it is the state that is wrong.”

What Turkey needs is not a presidential system, but a democratic parliamentary system, Demirtaş said. Whether the Kurds will vote as a block if there is a second round, Demirtaş answered, “There is no guarantee that the voter will vote as a block. There could be surprise results both in the first round and in the second round.”

When asked if there could be a boycott in question, Demirtaş said, “If we are not present in the second round, we will evaluate and decide whether it would be a boycott or another thing.” Demirtaş said they would not direct their voters to support one candidate in the second round as a principle.

His running for presidency is the most concrete indicator that Kurds want to cohabitate, Demirtaş said. “If Kurds are voting for me, then that means Kurds want to live in this country, because Turkey’s president is everybody’s president; the fact that a profile like mine is in the race for Turkish presidency is a development that increases hopes. As the presidential candidate of an identity that has been excluded and disregarded in Turkey, for that candidate to run for this office is a morale booster for all of the identities that are being oppressed.”

Separatism and separatist movements will be eliminated by raising the democratic standards of Turkey, Demirtaş said. Separatism stems from injustice, he said. “Because of the Gezi incidents, people in the west of the country have also learned that this state is not a just state. The only remedy to eliminate concerns for separatism is more democracy.”  

If Iraqi Kurds become independent after a referendum, this should not be regarded as negative development for Turkey Demirtaş said: “It would be more correct for Turkey to respect this decision, this outcome of the referendum without causing more slaughter, a bloody ethnic clash. It would be beneficial for Turkey to recognize such a state-to-be.”