Turkey’s Kurds should be in Parliament

Published 22.01.2015 01:02

The pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (HDP) has repeated over and over again that it plans to enter as a party the parliamentary elections scheduled for this June, despite the ten percent threshold.

In the past, the former pro-Kurdish parties, which were closed down by the Constitutional Court, entered elections with insignificant candidates, but fielded their strong candidates as independents and won resounding victories in most southeastern and eastern provinces, despite a system that does not favor independents.

Once Kurds entered Parliament, they joined their pro-Kurdish party and thus the party managed to establish a parliamentary group, which means it has at least 20 deputies and a say in parliamentary affairs.

This time, HDP officials are saying that they will abandon this system and actually field their authentic candidates, despite the ten percent threshold, which means the total national votes for a party that enters the polls has to be more than ten percent to be able to win seats in Parliament. If this is not the case, they can win landslides in certain provinces, and win all the seats in that province on paper, but because of the threshold, they will not enter Parliament, and their seats will go to the party that has the second-most numerous votes in the province. In the case of the HDP, the party may win a majority of seats in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, which has been the case in the past, but will not send any of its deputies to Parliament if its votes are below the threshold nationally. In that case, the second-most numerous votes are received by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), and so it will take all the seats, despite receiving far fewer votes just because it was second.

If this is repeated in all the southeastern provinces, then the AK Party will win all the seats and thus enter Parliament with an even greater majority.

Some analysts and critics say that the HDP is doing this on purpose to allow the AK Party a massive majority, and thus change the Constitution with this majority to open the way for a final settlement between the government and the troubled Kurds of Turkey. But this argument is ridiculous.

AK Party officials are well aware that even if they can change the Constitution to open the way for a historic reconciliation between Turks and Kurds, the absence of the HDP in Parliament will be a hollow victory, because their presence there is much more valuable for the survival of the reconciliation process.

It is true that there are several Kurds in the AK Party and the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), but they are regarded as assimilated or, at least, the supporters of the mainstream, and that they do not represent Kurdish militants close to the PKK who wreaked havoc in Turkey with their terrorist campaign in the mid-1980s and 1990s.

The HDP, which represents the southeastern Kurdish areas home to those with sympathies for the PKK due to various reasons, must be in Parliament in order for the voice of the militant Kurds to be heard at the parliamentary podium.

This is vital for the reconciliation process and for sustaining the positive atmosphere that has been created with the reconciliation drive between Turks and Kurds. HDP leaders should put aside their pride, and stop trying to prove something and do what is best for the country. They should be back in Parliament during the new term to help draft the new Constitution with the AK Party.

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