The HDP’s election tactics
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş recently said these absolutely true words: “I first became a lawyer to defend the rights of my people against the oppressive state. But that was not enough. So I went into politics. I became a deputy. That was not enough either. So there is only one way out: We must make the state into a democratic system that nobody and no party can make in his or her ‘own’ state. The road to that is a constitution based on freedoms.”
I think that, over the past 30 years, democrats in Turkey have felt the pain expressed in this statement. For this reason, I say a new and civilian constitution is a must.
These are my impressions of parliament’s HDP lobby at the moment: There is intense traffic in the HDP corridors. Many people are seeking candidacy. Several bureaucrats are thinking about resigning in order to become candidates. Some foreign representatives are also present.
Whoever I speak to in Ankara has an estimate on what the HDP will do in the elections. It looks like the elections are now here and everything depends on what the HDP will do.
I had an opportunity to talk to Selahattin Demirtaş. I visit the HDP floor in parliament to find the answers to some questions. The questions are obvious: Will the HDP demand a schedule before the June general election for steps in the resolution process? Will it pressure the government? What strategy will it adopt in the general elections? Will it be able to pass the 10 percent election threshold? What will happen if it doesn’t?
As always, Demirtaş gave sincere answers. I drew some conclusions from our conversation, which I will sum up here in addition to my own interpretations:
1) The HDP will not put pressure for a resolution process schedule before the general elections. In other words, there will be no forcing about “these things should be done before the elections.” Some steps may be requested, and those steps will be considered “sincerity indicators.” But it is obvious that an issue of 30 years’ standing will not be solved in five months.
2) The HDP administration absolutely believes that it will pass the threshold. Moreover they predict that they will secure over 70 deputies. Demirtaş even mentioned a target of 15 percent.
3) The HDP aims to make its election strategy reflect a “wide democracy platform,” inviting everybody to unite on essential common values: Human rights, freedoms, full democracy, and the need to make the constitution of a democratic state, so that anybody can live freely as a citizen in a common democratic structure according to his or her beliefs and identity. The way to achieve this is to write a democratic constitution. The HDP will ask for votes on this platform.
Demirtaş has his own calculation: “As in western democracies, political power may change hands, but the state’s democratic structure cannot be redesigned according to the power of any single group. We want to establish that principle.”
The CHP factor
After talking to Demirtaş, I spoke to a number of parliamentarians from both the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party). There are not many concerns in the AK Party; they think they will be able to get the votes they are expecting.
Will the absence of Erdoğan at rallies have a negative effect? From the psychological point of view, there will not be the enthusiastic and joyful Erdoğan rallies, but a negative effect is not expected at the ballot box.
In the CHP on the other hand, a concern about the HDP is widely felt.
The CHP masterminds are considering the possibility of left-wing votes gaining momentum, especially in Greece, and creating a positive wind for the HDP. Moreover, if the HDP is able to meet the CHP’s “İzmir folks” at a common point, this will have serious consequences for the CHP.