Why can’t the HDP receive 15 percent of the vote?

Published 11.03.2015 02:03

The reliability of companies that regularly make election predictions has risen considerably in recent years. It is generally believed that such organizations work in accordance with scientific criteria and that the research they conduct is objective. This conviction is based on relatively large and prestigious companies obtaining similar results, with which they can provide forecasts that are close to the actual results. Today, however, we are faced with quite a different problem, as research companies begin to act like media organs. They see themselves within a particular camp and set about providing survey results that do not contradict that camp's position. If this were not the case, the two companies that carried out field research into the votes of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) within the same week would not have come up with 38 percent and 47 percent separately. The same goes for the votes for the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). Naturally, the range is narrower in the HDP's case, but the simultaneous release of election forecasts of 7.5 percent and 11.5 percent creates confusion, as whether or not they pass the election threshold is a critical issue for the HDP.

In such a chaotic atmosphere, Republican People's Party (CHP) leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, can say that his party is targeting 35 percent of the vote. Recently, the executive of a survey company argued that this was a realistic target, because when Kılıçdaroğlu first became the head of the party, he received similar popular support. However, the public did not yet know the true Kılıçdaroğlu at that time and they supported the Kılıçdaroğlu of their dreams. It is useful to acknowledge that what was dreamed about Kılıçdaroğlu in the past turned out to be just that, and it is no use crying over spilt milk.

HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş has put forth a more interesting proposal with respect to election expectations, arguing that democracy can come to Turkey only if the HDP receives 15 percent of the vote. In other words, considering that other parties side against democracy, Demirtaş proposes that a significant pro-democracy element is needed in Parliament. He also noted that if the HDP cannot achieve this vote, the country remains alone with the AK Party - which, according to him, means the country will be dragged toward disaster. It is not certain whether this argument constitutes a rational invitation to attract people to the HDP, but it should be underlined that the current voter base for the HDP is around 3.2 million, and that it needs at least 4.4 million votes in order to pass the election threshold.

Interestingly enough, if Demirtaş's remark is interpreted from a different angle, it actually turns out to be true. Indeed, if the HDP can receive 15 percent of the vote, it may no longer be possible to hamper Turkey's move towards democracy. First of all, the HDP will need to be democratized and embrace the whole range of social demands and preferences to achieve such a vote. This would mean that on the whole, Turkish politics would be settled on democratic grounds, going beyond the achievement of a democratic solution to the Kurdish question. If the HDP can receive 15 percent of the vote, it would become a natural partner of the government and a leading actor in the construction of the future.

If the HDP really has concerns or dreams about democratization, firstly it should ask itself why it cannot receive 15 percent of the vote. Let us revisit Kılıçdaroğlu's case at this point. When the CHP leader was asked why his party could receive around only 2 to 3 percent of the vote in southeastern Turkey, he answered that the people living in that region do not vote for them due to identity and cultural reasons. Hopefully, Demirtaş will not accuse those who do not vote for him of being driven by wrong ideologies, using the same logic as Kılıçdaroğlu. The problem is that the HDP's message is ambivalent and it has not yet passed the test for sincerity. Otherwise, it would easily receive 15 percent of the vote in such an opposition gap.

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