The end of politics in resolving the Kurdish question

The end of politics in resolving the Kurdish question

Turkey missed a great opportunity in the period between 2010 and 2015, as it failed to resolve the Kurdish question through dialogue and peaceful means and also failed to rewrite the new civilian constitution with the participation of all four political parties. Years-long political efforts on these two major projects were rendered futile because of the sharp ideological differences between these four political parties and the heavily polarized political atmosphere of Turkey. 

Turkey is now heavily paying the cost of this huge failure with the rise of terrorism across the entire country which has been claiming the lives of hundreds of security personnel and civilians. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan closed all avenues to the resumption of negotiations for a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish question, although Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu suggested the possibility of returning to the table if the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) laid down its weapons. 

Furthermore, Erdoğan’s efforts to push the government to remove the immunities of lawmakers who are accused of supporting the PKK and its terrorist moves have yielded results, as the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) introduced a draft constitutional amendment to pave the way for parliament to permit the launch of judicial proceedings on mostly pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MPs. 

Unsurprisingly, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) announced they would support the AKP’s version of the drafted amendment, although the CHP’s leader confessed this ruling party proposal was in fact a violation of the Turkish constitution. 

The reason why the CHP - institutionally - joined this campaign is the fear of being depicted as a supporter of terrorism to a government that has already proven that it won’t hesitate to use all propaganda means to link the main opposition party with terror. In a highly nationalistic political climate over the ongoing anti-terror fight, the CHP’s rejection to back the move would also have drawn reactions from the party’s own nationalistic grassroots, especially in the Western coastal towns of the country.     

However, it should be recalled that the parties cannot impose on their lawmakers what stance they will take when it comes to voting over a constitutional amendment and that’s why securing the required 367 votes will not be an easy task for the AKP. Many in Ankara believe some AKP lawmakers will not vote in favor of the amendment in a secret-ballot, along with a considerable majority of CHP lawmakers. 

Of course, the scope of the AKP’s proposal to remove immunities, which will be decided at an inter-party commission, will also have a decisive role, especially in the decisions of CHP lawmakers. 

Whatever the result of the vote, this move by the AKP, which has received support from the CHP and the MHP, will further detract the Kurdish question from the political arena and thus nix the role of parliament.

Needless to underline, a socio-political issue that has deep historical and cultural dimensions requiring an immediate settlement cannot be solely left to the hands of the security apparatus and the judicial bureaucracy. 

When else will this country’s vital problems be addressed by elected politicians and political parties, if not now?