HDP bans critical media outlets from party congress, re-elects co-chairs
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULJan 26, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Jan 26, 2016 12:00 am
Many newspapers and news channels were banned from attending the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) congress on Sunday where Co-Chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ were re-elected despite recent survey findings.
Various media outlets, including Daily Sabah, Takvim and A Haber channel from the parent company Turkuvaz Media Group, were not allowed into the congress hall. The barred media outlets branded the pro-Kurdish HDP's decision as a blow to freedom of the press.
In addition to banning many journalists, a photojournalist working for state-run Anadolu Agency (AA) was reportedly removed from the congress hall.
The HDP's decision to prevent some journalists from performing their jobs was also seen as a contradictory move compared to the party's previous criticism of the government for allegedly violating the freedom of the press. In addition to employees from Turkuvaz Media Group, reporters for the dailies Yeni Şafak, Star, Akşam, Güneş and Yeni Akit were also among the barred, pro-government media outlets.
The HDP, which previously claimed to represent all of Turkey, did not send invitations to political parties such as the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Grand Unity Party (BBP).
Yüksekdağ and Demirtaş managed to secure the votes of 624 delegates out of the 626 total voters. There are a total of 1,049 HDP delegates.
The election results were not surprising in terms of the party's earlier decision to continue with Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ, however Demirtaş's earlier statements that he was not "keen" on becoming the co-chair again, had led to confusion.
Despite a successful congress for the co-chairs, the surprising aspect of the results was in regard to recently conducted surveys that pointed to a huge drop in approval ratings for the two leaders.
According to a survey conducted by the Ipsos research company, last year the number of those who considered the HDP unsuccessful rose from 58 percent in August to 67 percent in December.
The failure of both co-chairs to distance themselves from the PKK terrorist organization also played a crucial role in the decline of their approval ratings. Previous pledges from the two leaders to become a party that reflected the interests of all of Turkey are now in tatters, some claim in the wake of recent surveys.
The party also said on Sunday that it would take part in the parliamentary commission responsible for drafting a new constitution. Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman previously invited opposition parties in Parliament to join the commission, but the HDP had not, as of Sunday, said whether or not it would join.
"We will be on the constitutional reconciliation commission," Demirtaş told the party congress on Sunday.
HDP İzmir Deputy Ertuğrul Kürkçü told Reuters: "We will present our proposal for a constitution in which local authorities are more powerful."