AKP not in favor of HDP's closure, seeks to remove public support to it instead

The AKP doesn't want to shut the HDP down contrary to the wishes of its ally MHP, but seeks to remove public support to it instead. "The HDP should indeed be shut down, but it should be done in elections," an AKP official told Duvar.

President Erdoğan (L) is seen with MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli in this file photo.

Nergis Demirkaya / DUVAR

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) isn't in favor of shutting the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) down, but wants to remove the public support to it instead. 

The debate around HDP's closure has been ongoing for a while, mainly due to Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, who calls for the party's closure at every opportunity it gets. 

"The HDP should indeed be shut down, but it should be done in elections," an AKP official told Duvar. 

The HDP is under immense pressure from the government, which claims that the party is the "political wing" of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The HDP denies these accusations. 

Scores of HDP officials, including former co-chairs Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, are imprisoned on terror-related charges. Most recently, dozens of HDP members were detained on Feb. 15 following the deaths of 13 Turks held captive by the PKK in northern Iraq. 

The AKP will not support the MHP's call to shut the HDP down, sources told Duvar, adding that the ruling party is seeking a method to push the HDP out of the political scene. 

The government is planning a two-step strategy to do so, with the first being lifting the parliamentary immunities of all HDP deputies who have summary of proceedings prepared against them on terror charges. The second step is to make propaganda that would claim that the party has relations with the PKK hoping that the public would withdraw its support.

A high-level AKP official explained the logic behind their move by saying that shutting down parties "didn't give results in the past." 

"Our approach is to send those with summary of proceedings away. We are ready to lift the immunities of the deputies. People ask us, 'Why do you still allow them to enter parliament?' wherever we go. We need to manage this process in the most appropriate way and do what's necessary," the official told Duvar. 

"When we push the deputies with terror-related summary of proceedings out of parliament we also need to prevent them from getting public support. So we need to describe what they're doing very well," the official noted. 

The number of summary of proceedings sent to parliament surpassed 1,300 during the current parliamentary term, with 914 of them on 56 HDP deputies. These files are sent to a commission and are evaluated at the end of terms, but the AKP and MHP deputies may do so earlier since they are the majority in the parliamentary commission. The process may end in the lifting of parliamentary immunities, which would pave the way for the deputies' arrests. 

The AKP is also considering lowering the election threshold to five or percent from 10 percent with amendments in the law on elections in order to harm the HDP. 

"The threshold must definitely be lowered. People vote for the HDP in order for it to pass the 10 percent threshold, but its votes are around seven percent under normal circumstances. It can't get 11 or 12 percent of the votes when the threshold is lowered. Hence, the HDP would be shrunk and brought down to its real votes," an AKP source told Duvar. 

"The HDP's role in the political scene would be even lower," the source noted.