People showed red card to Erdoğan’s presidential system hopes, Demirtaş tells CNN
Photo Credit: CNNEveryone in Turkey is happy with election results that have “closed the door of dictatorship to the president,” Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş told Christiane Amanpour on CNN International on June 8.
“We want a pluralistic system that supports freedoms and we wanted to prevent a dictatorship by [Turkish President Recep] Tayyip Erdoğan. We have been able to close that door so this is a very good result for Turkey. The result we achieved has made everyone concerned very happy,” Demirtaş said.
He told CNN that although a majority of voters supported Erdoğan during last year’s presidential election, people have now expressed their demand for a multi-party parliamentary system rather than a presidential system.
“Mr. Erdoğan expressed his will to change the constitution and become an active president in a presidential regime. But the general public, it seems, did not like his attempt. They showed it a red card. They prevented the [Justice and Development Party] AKP from forming a single-party government,” said Demirtaş, whose party received 13 percent of the vote on June 7, according to unofficial election results.
The AKP has most seats in parliament but lacks power to form a single-party government, which Demirtaş said will bring about “the era of coalitions or maybe early elections.”
“The AKP has to give up its one-man regime dream. They will have to find a solution in cooperation with the opposition parties,” he added.
The co-chair of the Kurdish problem-focused HDP also said the Kurdish peace process, which stalled in the months before the June 7 election, could be restarted.
“There has been a dialogue process for the last two-and-a-half years for a solution of the Kurdish question.
But recently, because of President Erdoğan’s attitude, it has been put in deep freeze,” said Demirtaş, referring to the stalled meetings of his party deputies with outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan on İmralı Island prison, where Öcalan is serving a life-sentence.
“We’ve always said that the process must continue. Now we are even stronger in parliament. We want the process to continue. Mr. Öcalan said they are ready for the disarmament of the groups. He said he was going to call for that to be done,” said Demirtaş, referring to the laying down of arms by PKK militants.
“I believe that the dialogue can restart from where it was left and that whatever the conditions we will continue to support a peaceful resolution,” Demirtaş added.
Speaking about the election campaign, Demirtaş said he received threats directed at him and his colleagues.
“Being a Kurd and defending a plural democracy in Turkey can be seen as a threat by some people and we knew when we set out on this path that this was going to be the case. But we have to be courageous,” he added.
Responding to a question over the blasts at his party buildings and at a rally in Diyarbakır a few days before the election, Demirtaş said the suspects had links to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“We believe that for them to be able to carry out these attacks it was possible either because the government’s intelligence work was poor or because they felt the courage to be able to do this. At the end of the day, it is the government’s responsibility to prevent such acts, such atrocities,” he added.
Meanwhile, Demirtaş also said the election results did not surprise him or his HDP colleagues, despite the “general lack of belief that we were going to be able to cross the [10 percent election] threshold.”
Click here to read the transcript of the interview.