HDP co-leader calls for election threshold to be ‘torn down’

HDP co-leader calls for election threshold to be ‘torn down’

HDP co-leader calls for election threshold to be ‘torn down’

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş speaks in Istanbul Jan. 4.

The co-leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, has released his most vocal criticism yet against the 10 percent election threshold, calling on voters to “tear down” the measure that has prevented smaller political parties from entering Parliament.

“The real threshold is in the minds. Let’s tear down this threshold in our minds first because [the government] won’t lift it until we tear it down,” Demirtaş said in a fierce salvo Jan. 4 against the ruling Justice and Development Part (AKP), which has gradually become more reluctant on the issue.

Speaking during his party’s provincial congress in Istanbul, Demirtaş urged the voters in Turkey’s biggest city to vote HDP disregarding the difficulties it may have in overcoming the threshold, stressing that it would be a “turning point” if it succeeded in doing so.

The measure was considered in the 1990s as a method that would prevent Kurdish parties from entering Parliament, but the HDP’s antecedents bypassed the measure either by forming electoral alliances or by presenting its candidates on independent lists. According to Demirtaş, the threshold issue is also a key element of the ongoing Kurdish peace process.

His words come as the Turkish Constitutional Court is set to rule on individual complaints about the constitutionality of the threshold, a move that the government has routinely dubbed as a “coup attempt.”

But Demirtaş said the threshold was itself the legacy of the military junta responsible for the 1980 coup. “Then all the governments embraced it. They used the methods of the coup-makers and restrained the will of the people,” he said.

Demirtaş also reiterated that the ongoing Kurdish peace process was at a “turning point” and said “some will try to tear down society like they did in Syria.”

Demirtaş also said that a delegation from his party could not go to İmralı island, where outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader in incarcerated, Jan. 4 due to bad weather conditions but added that he hoped the delegation would go there in a few days to meet Öcalan.