It would be ‘super’ if HDP failed to pass election threshold, says deputy PM

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin AkDogan on Tuesday dismissed concerns over the possible failure of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to pass the 10 percent election threshold, saying it would be “super” if it doesn’t qualify to enter Parliament.

“Some people say this or that would happen if the HDP fails to pass the threshold,” he said during a visit to the eastern province of Malatya. “Nothing would happen. It would be super. It would be very good. Did they even exist when the [ruling Justice and Development Party] AK Party launched the [settlement] process?”

The HDP may struggle to pass the 10 percent election threshold to enter Parliament in next month’s parliamentary elections. But if the HDP does achieve what would be a historic first for the party, the AK Party is unlikely to secure a big enough parliamentary majority to comfortably press for constitutional changes that would pave the way for a presidential system, sought by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to replace the current parliamentary one.

As the June 7 elections hove into view, both Erdogan and AK Party officials have intensified their criticism of the HDP.

AkDogan said the HDP is now hand-in-hand with other political parties of whom he claimed had tried to block efforts to resolve the Kurdish issue. “Does the nation not see this? How could these two mentalities unite? But they do whatever it takes they team up with the devil. But it will not work in these elections,” he said.

Echoing Erdogan’s criticism, AkDogan also attacked the HDP over religion, saying the HDP is promoting the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) mentality in southeastern Turkey. “They [the CHP and the HDP] say the same things. They say they will abolish compulsory religious classes abolish the [Religious Affairs Directorate] Diyanet recognize the [alleged] Armenian genocide,” he said of the HDP.

The pre-election tension has brought the settlement process under even greater strain, with HDP officials declaring that the process, which has consisted since 2012 of secret talks with jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Abdullah Ocalan, has come to the end of the road.

AkDogan dismissed concerns that the settlement process would be harmed if the HDP failed to be represented in Parliament. “Did they have a single deputy in Parliament [when the process was launched]? They had not passed the threshold and they were out of Parliament. This process was initiated by Erdogan, by the AK Party,” he said. “It is the AK Party which owns this process.”