Does the HDP want to pass the elections threshold?

Published 22.04.2015 21:30

The pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (HDP) has made public its election manifesto, which seems to be aimed at courting marginal groups, thus securing their votes to pass the 10-percent elections threshold.

When you look at the details of the manifesto, you see that the party is acting more like a Green Party in Europe than a party that is trying to win the votes of left-wing voters.

It is good that the party declared it will support "a solution without the use of arms to the Kurdish problem under all circumstances." It is also good that the party leads all the others by creating true and honest gender equality that is also reflected in the number of seats that it currently holds in Parliament.

However, the manifesto lacks the punch that is needed to enlist the support of at least some of the left-wing voters who normally vote for the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).

It is clear that the people want some good news on the economic front that will fill their empty pockets, but the HDP does not offer this in a convincing manner. All it does is pay lip service to marginal groups and also offer some cosmetic reforms.

So when all these factors are taken into consideration, one starts to wonder whether the HDP actually wants to pass the 10 percent threshold in the June 7 elections.

Public opinion polls show the HDP votes are just under the 10 percent margin, and there is talk that the HDP may not be able to make it into Parliament. It seems the manifesto will not create the extra push that is needed to raise HDP votes and propel it into Parliament.

So what is the HDP playing at?

In the past, there were claims that the HDP had made an unholy alliance with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), whereby it would not pass the threshold and thus the AK Party would gain all the seats that the HDP was supposed to win in eastern and southeastern Turkey. The seats in these regions are contested between the HDP and the AK Party, and the other parties have very few supporters in those parts of the country. This would help the AK Party reach a majority whereby it could write the constitution and pass it through parliament, thus creating a presidential system that would please President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. But this turned out to be a big lie. The HDP has clearly stated it opposes the presidential system and will fight it.

So why is the HDP reluctant to enter parliament? It seems if the HDP is left out of parliament, the legitimacy of these elections will become a serious issue, and thus the HDP will be able to corner the AK Party and increase its bargaining power, not only for democratic reforms, but also for more rights to the Kurds. The AK Party may win more seats than it hopes, but the fact that the votes given to the HDP by the people of eastern and southeastern Turkey will be disregarded if the HDP does not pass the threshold, will create a massive controversy on the legitimacy of the parliamentary representation of these regions. People will say that the HDP won the regional votes, but the AK Party deputies will end up representing the region, thereby creating a seriously skewed situation.

This will not mean a new constitution in the years to come, but it does mean new elections in at least two years' time.

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