HDP and CHP also envision a ‘New Turkey’

HDP and CHP also envision a ‘New Turkey’

“New Turkey” was a term first used by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), but two opposition parties who have announced their election manifestos have also promised a new and different Turkey.

Both the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have pledged to change many practices in Turkey, with the latter announcing a socialist agenda for its government.

Hoping to go beyond its traditional supporters, Kurdish voters, the “alternative Turkey” in the HDP’s election manifesto is a one that puts the priority on the women, youth and outcasts of society.

In the manifesto announced by the party’s co-leaders, Selahatin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, the HDP promised a similar system of co-prime ministry.

“We can build a brand-new Turkey only through a radical transformation,” Demirtaş said, vowing to lower the voting age to 16 and the age of candidates for parliamentary seats to 18.

In other unique messages, the party promised to include the right of conscientious objection to the constitution, to deliver an allowance of 200 Turkish Liras per month to those between the ages of 15-25, to remove militarist and chauvinistic language from school books, to create a multi-lingual education system and to declare March 8, International Women’s Day, an official holiday.

The HDP is a major supporter of gay rights, with many gay rights activists being actively involved in politics since the party’s establishment. In the manifesto, the party pledged to fight against homophobia and take steps to recognize people’s choices and equal citizenship in the constitution.

“We are telling the homophobic mindset, which does not recognize any color other than black and white... to embrace their colors,” Yüksekdağ said.

Another clear message came in diplomacy, with Demirtaş promising to “unconditionally reopen the Turkish-Armenian border.”

Besides their unique messages, the HDP and the CHP have common promises for the new Turkey they envision.

Both parties pledged to abolish compulsory religion courses, which have long been a major source of complaint, especially for the country’s Alevi community, and have been declared biased by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). They both promise to officially recognize “cemevis” as houses of worship, another long-time rightful demand by the Alevis, backed by the ECHR.

The HDP and the CHP both say they will stop investing in nuclear energy, lower or abolish the election threshold, abolish the village guard system, in which thousands of people in the east and southeast were armed by the state to fight the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and put an end to the sub-contracting system. 

An interesting common promise of the HDP and the CHP comes in sports: Both parties promise to end Passolig, the e-ticketing system that has been the subject of mass protests by football supporters and has led to dramatic drops in the number of spectators in stadiums.

The AKP says it has already transformed Turkey into a new one, and wants voters’ support for further changes. What it has done already has come at the expense of alienating and upsetting some segments of society, especially those who feel their lifestyles are under attack.

The two opposition parties also promise a “New Turkey,” much different from the current one, which they say will embrace all.