ORHAN KEMAL – Kurds hold the key for democracy

Kurds hold the key for democracyI recently published a piece in Todayand#39s Zaman arguing that if the Peoplesand#39 Democratic Party (HDP) succeeds in passing the national threshold of 10 percent, it will play a key role in the peace process. Shortly after, the co-chair of this political party, Selahattin DemirtaI, made a historic declaration.

He said, andldquoMr [Recep Tayyip] ErdoIan, as long as the HDP exists you will not be president.andrdquoHis speech was just a few sentences in total, but it made the headlines of many newspapers and was the major news item on most TV channels.

With these words DemirtaI was addressing the biggest concern of potential supporters of his party: What if there is a hidden agreement between the HDP and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party)? What if the HDP deliberately fails to pass the threshold and, as a consequence of our terrible electoral system, most of their seats go to the AK Party as the winner of the elections? Alternatively, what if the HDP receives 60-70 votes and supports ErdoIan in changing the parliamentary system into a presidential one?Actually, I myself, as a potential vote for the HDP, had similar concerns. When the HDP declared its wish to run in the coming elections as a political party rather then running with individual deputy candidates, I grew suspicious.

Why were they taking this risk of falling short of the national threshold?Today, however, this strategy seems to work. I know many people who are normally not HDP supporters but who will vote for the HDP in the coming election out of fear that the party might not surpass the threshold and thus give ErdoIan all the seats he needs to change the Constitution.

I believe, with his solemn promise to stand in the way of ErdoIanand#39s presidency, DemirtaI has already succeeded in pushing his party past this threshold.A recent national survey from the Gezici polling firm has shown that the HDP would receive 11.

4 percent of the votes if there were an election today. However, this possibility may disturb the existent status quo in Turkey it would be extremely easy for the HDP to lose popularity within a matter of days if violence attributed to the Kurdistan Workersand#39 Party (PKK) broke out.

I think certain key figures are keenly aware of this possibility. For example, Dengir Mir Mehmet FIrat — a prominent Kurdish politician and one of the founders of the AK Party, in which FIrat played a prominent role until his resignation in 2014 — warned on his Twitter account that there might be provocations targeting the Turkish flag, soldiers and police when the elections come closer FIrat will run under the HDP banner in the election.

I had concerns similar to those of FIrat. I think the Kurdish political movement — at least those who share the same ambitions as DemirtaI — should try to prompt the PKK to declare that it will not resort to violence and that if any violence were to take place it would be a provocation.

It seems to me that, if there are no incidents at the last minute, the HDP has a great chance of having a strong presence in Parliament, which will not only block a dictatorship but also make them the party a key player in the peace process.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman