Pro-Kurd Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) promised to "realize democratic autonomy" across Turkey if it is in power after the June 7th legislative election. Selahattin Demirtas- and Figen Yuksekdag-led party yesterday unveiled the HDP's election manifesto, which vows to turn Turkey into a multi-cultural, ecological country with regional autonomies and equal rights for women and LGBT individuals.
The election is perceived to be of utmost importance for Turkey's future. The ruling Party of Justice and Development (AKP, conservative islamist) is seeking to adopt a new Constitution that strengthens the powers of the president -currently AKP founder Recep Tayyip Erdogan- and that helps reach a settlement to the Kurdish conflict. HDP agrees in the latter goal, but not in the former. And even in the latter, the pro-Kurd party believes that peace with the PKK will not be possible without a deep reform of the Turkish state and rights and autonomy for Kurds. AKP, however, prefers to reach a peace deal without questioning Turkey's unitary model.
Regarding the presidential issue, HDP believes that AKP wants to give Erdogan too much power, whom the pro-Kurd party blames for seeking to become a new "sultan." HDP thus vows to prevent any constitutional change that turns Turkey into a presidential country. Constitutional amendments requiring two-thirds of the total seats to be passed, HDP argues its MPs will be the key to block AKP attempts to reinforce Erdogan.
Demirtas's and Yuksekdag's party needs to overcome a 10% threshold of the total votes at the state level in order to be allocated seats. Out of five surveys released this month, four of them predict the HDP will make it into Parliament. This would automatically give HDP some 50 to 60 MPs -out of a total 550. So far, AKP seems poised to remain quite far from reaching the two thirds: opinion polls say the party will get 39% to 48% of the votes. Second placed is secular, kemalist center-left CHP, predicted to receive 23% to 28% of the votes, while Turkish ultranationalist MHP could secure the third place with 13% to 17% of the votes.
Left, democracy and autonomy
The HDP manifesto is based on the promotion of workers' and women's rights, and the strengthening of democracy in Turkey. The party wants to shift from Turkey's current centralized structure to a highly decentralized one, with elected regional assemblies that incorporate the principles of "self-administration" and representation of "all ethnic identities." HDP-advocated new Turkey should be based on the equality of all peoples and religions, and should signal the end of state nationalism, the manifesto argues.
Changes in Turkey's foreign action
The HDP manifesto would also bring revolution to Turkey's foreign relations. The party promises to "unconditionally" reopen the Armenian border and to put an end to the blockade against that country. HDP also promises to help Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots to reunify their island -the northern half is currently occupied by Turkish forces- and will promote the independence of Palestine. In relation to the civil war in Syria, the HDP vows to help find a solution "based on the fraternity and equality of peoples." Regarding the EU, the Kurdish party wants Turkey to become a full member, "within the scope of our principles."
(Image: Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag / Photo from HDP's Instagram account.)