World Bulletin / News Desk
If the voters who back his party next weekend look like the attendees of his rallies, Selahattin Demirtas’s gamble to oust the Turkish government could well pay off.
“They are using power as a tool against the people,” Mr Demirtas railed, contrasting the wealthy circle clustered around President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with the lot of Turkey’s toiling masses.
His thrilled audience included secular Turks, headscarved women and young Kurdish men waving banners.
This is the coalition that Mr Demirtas, joint leader and figurehead of the leftwing People’s Democratic party (or HDP), hopes will fracture the government majority and take his forces into parliament in next Sunday’s general election — crossing the 10 per cent threshold required to enter the legislature.
In terms of determining the election outcome, no other factor comes close to the HDP’s drive to pass the threshold.
Two groups of potential sympathisers are vital for Mr Demirtas’s task: secular Turks, whose support he’s trying to win by emphasising his opposition to Mr Erdogan’s plans to switch Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidential system; and religious Kurds, who have traditionally backed the AK party.
If the HDP does indeed clear the 10 per cent hurdle and the AKP remains where current opinion polls put it — on somewhere between 40 and 45 per cent — then Turkey’s current rulers risk losing the single party majority they have enjoyed since 2002. Mr Erdogan’s ambitions for a presidential system would be consigned to oblivion. Not passing the threshold means they will lose all representation in the Turkish parliament.
At least 40 seats the HDP would otherwise win would go to the AKP, ensuring it a comfortable majority.these are the stakes in the HDP’s decision to break with precedent and run in the elections as a party in its own right, rather than competing in individual races as independent candidates, as it has to date.
“It is worth taking the risk,” said Mr Demirtas however the problem that Demirtas faces is that many secularists who are leaning towards voting for the party to stop Mr Erdogan still do not trust it the HDP party.
Mr Demirtas accuses Mr Erdogan of seeking a dictatorship and rejects the idea that the broader Kurdish movement could accept a presidential system in return for greater self-rule, the movement’s central cause for decades. “If that is what is on the table, we will resist it,” he said.
Others remain far from convinced.
Some AKP backers say the Kurds will ultimately accept such a deal. Among those attending Mr Demirtas’s Istanbul rallies, the doubts have not yet been dispelled.
“I still can’t get used to people waving flags with Ocalan’s face on in the rallies,” said Elif Kizilboga, a kindergarten teacher who described herself as coming from a traditional Turkish secularist family but was 80 per cent likely to vote for the HDP. “I wish they didn’t.”
Next weekend’s election depends in large part on who is most detested by many such people — Mr Erdogan or Mr Ocalan.Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Haziran 2015, 11:18