AK Parti-MHP could agree on Kurdish issue too

AK Parti-MHP could agree on Kurdish issue too

The news about an agreement between Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) and the right wing opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to hold local elections in October 2013, instead of March 2014, came a few hours after a strong speech by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan, which mostly focused on the Kurdish issue.

Erdoğan delivered that speech at a critical party executives meeting, the last one before the critical party congress on Sept. 30. The congress is critical because more than a third of the AK Parti parliamentary group, including many ministers, deputy chairmen, parliamentary spokesmen, and Erdoğan himself, will not have the option of being candidates in the next parliamentary elections in July 2015, due to the three-term limit in the party charter. It is therefore this congress that will carry the party to the three important elections on the way. By moving the March 2014 local elections to 2013, Erdoğan aims to relieve the pressure on the presidential election of 2014, when he wants to secure Abdullah Gül’s place in the Çankaya Hill presidential palace, in the capital Ankara.

In this critical address to his fellow party officials (half of whom will no longer be in the hall soon) Erdoğan dedicated his one hour plus speech mostly to the Kurdish issue, the fight against the attacks of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), denouncing the Kurdish problem-focused Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) as being tools of the PKK.

“We have spoken to the judiciary” Erdoğan said, perhaps in a Freudian slip. “They will do whatever is necessary and we will do whatever is necessary in Parliament.” This statement came two days after a speech by Ali Alkan, the head of the Supreme Court of Appeals, who said “terrorists” were abusing certain freedoms. Erdoğan’s words signaled that the government might take steps to lift the parliamentary immunity of a number of BDP deputies, due to their praise of PKK militants, after they hugged and exchanged good wishes with them during a road block conducted by the PKK near the Iraqi border. According to government figures, this was a total propaganda set up.

The MHP had already proposed that the government should strip the BDP deputies off their immunities and throw them out of Parliament. That is a practice that would bring to mind the 1990s. Then, Kurdish nationalist deputies were stripped off their immunities through a parliamentary vote, and then put in jail for collaborating with the PKK to contribute to the heavy atmosphere of unidentified murders and political assassinations.

The AK Parti government had previously declined to accept the MHP’s proposal, not because they found it particularly wrong, but rather because of the unwanted consequences it might lead to.

Now, after this cooperation to hold local elections earlier than originally planned, the political atmosphere is perhaps more suitable for the AK Parti and the MHP to find a formula to strip the BDP deputies off their immunities and allow them be prosecuted by the judges. Developments are indicating a further toughening of the political atmosphere regarding the Kurdish problem and the fight against the PKK, as the Syrian situation continues to get worse on the Turkish border.