The most difficult vote

The most difficult vote

A consensus is established among the opponents of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) governance. How many votes the AKP and other bigger parties will get is important. Just as important, however, is how many votes a fourth and smaller party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), will get in futile efforts to avoid its traditional micro-nationalist political rhetoric. The percentage of votes the HDP will get has become a national issue. To put it better, HDP’s success or failure in its uphill battle against the ten percent anti-democratic electoral threshold has become an existential issue for the future of this country’s democratic governance.

There is a consensus that the HDP must get over ten percent of the vote and send some 65-70 deputies (depending on distribution of its vote) to parliament. In the 2011 vote, for example, instead of sending less than 30 deputies, the HDP’s forefather, Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), might have produced at least 60 deputies if it had managed to defeat the ten percent national electoral threshold. It, however, participated in the 2011 vote with a web of independent candidates, received a cumulative vote of 6.58 percent, and produced 36 deputies, while the AKP won 326 seats with 49.9 percent, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) 135 seats with 25.9 percent of the vote and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) 53 seats with 13 percent of electoral support. Participating elections in 2011 with independent candidates was a wise move for the BDP. If it had entered as a party, their 36 seats would have gone mostly to the AKP, as the AKP was the second, if not the biggest, party in those constituencies, while the other parties were almost non-existent. Thus, the BDP at least managed to produce 36 seats through independents.

Now, encouraged with the presidential vote outcome and expecting to get 65-70 seats in parliament by successfully beating the anti-democratic ten percent electoral threshold, the HDP is entering the elections as a party. Not only the HDP but all other political parties, including the AKP, have realized that the outcome of this election will not be shaped with what other parties receive but rather on the performance of a party that, even today, is considered by most to be a political extension of the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) gang. If the HDP defeats the threshold, it might produce 65-70 deputies, bring the AKP below the number of deputies needed to establish a government alone and thus, force the country into a coalition governance, something that will require a culture of reconciliation rather than an obsession with majoritarianism this country has been force-fed for the past 13 years. 

A rather awkward consensus, is it not? Can it be done? Few days are left to the answer of this question, but many people doubt it, considering that at the polling booth many people might not be able to vote with reason (voting for the HDP to end the AKP governance) but will vote with emotions (being held captive to decades-old PKK related violence).

This is a very difficult and painful situation, so complex that many writers who try to comment on it find themselves blamed by a few of their readers and obviously by some political critics, as if they were supporting a separatist terrorist group and asking for its political extension. 

Mathematics might be very boring for some and difficult to understand for others but it is the fundamental of everything. In parliamentary democracies, often what percentage of electoral support parties receive becomes secondary to the number of parliamentary seats actually occupied by the parties. With or without referendums, constitutional amendments require certain parliamentary majority. An obsessive president wishing to become super president or an elected dictator has already bossed people around, addressing crowds and asking for votes for his party, even though constitutionally he ought to be bi-partisan and above party politics. 

In view of the pressing question, “What does the future hold for Turkey should the ‘president’s party’ obtain the required parliamentary strength to remain alone in power or change the constitution,” does it mean much whether a writer loved or hated a political group? Does it really matter to which party a writer may cast his vote? Just to relieve some readers(and definitely not because I am required to), I may say that I never ever voted for a conservative party. The name of the party or candidate may have changed but I always opted for the social democratic choice. Can I vote for the HDP this time? After all, despite its notorious background, the HDP has become some sort of a “social democratic party.” I cannot say no, but can I really forget it has been the political extension of a terrorist gang? On the other hand, is it possible to make peace without forgiving? Perhaps the time has come to forgive each other so that we may have a better future. 

This will be the most difficult vote.