Kurdish process will have to wait until after elections
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş delivered a very important message during his short parliamentary group meeting on March 17.
His message was that the HDP was not - and would not be - involved in any “dirty negotiation” with the Justice and Development Party (AKP) for granting autonomous governance in Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated regions in return for backing Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ambitions to adopt the presidential system that would further boosts his powers.
“Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, you will never be able to be the head of the nation as long as the HDP exists and as long as the HDP’s people are on this soil,” Demirtaş said in one striking sentence.
His remarks came just a few days after Erdoğan claimed that there was no Kurdish question in Turkey, and that the country’s Kurdish citizens enjoyed the same and equal rights as the rest of the country. The government is now unlikely to take the much-anticipated steps that Kurds were expecting before the June 7 general election.
In retaliation against Erdoğan’s statements, Demirtaş aimed at reaching out to the voters of other political parties who may be thinking about voting for the HDP in the upcoming elections. He wanted to ease the concerns of traditional voters of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and even the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) who are concerned about one-man rule in Turkey, and are thinking about voting for the HDP just because of this.
As Demirtaş puts it, the party will launch a vigorous and multifaceted election campaign throughout the country and abroad in order to multiply its votes to pass the 10 percent national election threshold.
HDP officials are very self-assured that their party will pass the threshold and secure 68 to 70 seats in parliament. They also argue that the AKP’s votes will be around 40 percent, making it difficult for the current government to secure a good majority in the next parliament.
This is the main reason why the HDP believes that a more genuine and real negotiation over the Kurdish peace process will take place right after the elections. They believe that a very intense give-and-take process could take place under such a scenario. There are even those who are talking about forming a coalition government with the AKP, prioritizing the objective of resolving the Kurdish question and renewing the constitution.
The Nevruz festival that will take place on March 21 is going to be important, but it won’t deliver a breakthrough, according to many HDP officials who also believe the government will likely put on the brakes after Nevruz until the election.
Ahead of the election, the AKP is expected to adopt a more nationalistic, conservative language that denies the existence of the Kurdish question, just as it did during the election campaign in early 2011 that brought in around 50 percent of the vote. The real game, however, is likely to commence on June 8.