Why should Kurds take part in elections?

In order to make them look like they are part of the system, Kurds can go to the ballots, vote and even elect people. But those who they elect have a lifespan of a butterfly. The immunity of their members of parliament are valid until the police deems otherwise with tear gas. So, are elections still an area of contestation for Kurds? Maybe reversing the question can lead us to a better reply: If Kurds avoided elections or withdrew their elected representatives, would that create an area of contestation?

If we think about the potential turmoil that can be caused by the false news about Muharrem İnce meeting with Erdoğan, it looks like some people want Republican People's Party (CHP) to focus on its inner problems rather than trying to win power.

It's currently unknown how long CHP's inner turmoil will last or how far it will go. But it is understood that CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who shyly saluted the early election call by the People's Democratic Party (HDP) and was then labeled a "national security problem" by the ruling AKP and its ally MHP, will have his hands full for a while and will try to deal with the problems inside the party. And it is also understood that some people made sure of this by using a “useful journalist.”

We can't know when issues inside CHP will end.

But it's clear that this will make time for a government that does not, in any way, want to think about early elections.

A member of parliament from HDP, who has been involved in active politics for many years, called after the interview we did with Sezai Temelli and talked about the issue of early elections. According to him, the early election call by HDP was too “early.” He said that it should have been called by CHP first; HDP calling for them first made CHP step on the brakes. We can't know if this is true or not.

On the other hand, it can also be said that early election pressure is the most powerful tool the opposition has on hand.

Then let's talk about HDP announcing last week that it will not leave the parliament nor the local municipalities that it still has, and calling for early elections...

I think even HDP did not expect the government to start appointing trustees right after March 31. Because it was thought that this much of an obvious lack of lawfulness would create a legitimacy problem for the AKP-MHP alliance.

A "levelheaded" government perhaps could not be able to take on an "emotional breakdown" of Kurds caused by such systematic intervention which leaves them out of election-representation and renders their votes totally meaningless.

So is there a mentality to deepen this "emotional breakdown" of Kurds? To rephrase, does the government need such a mentality?

No.

As Turkey is not a democratically governed country, actively ripping away the voting rights from millions of people does not harm the government, it makes it stronger.

Because of this, leaving Kurds out of the elected representation system is not a result of the trustee policy, it is actually the reason for it.

In that sense, expecting that the government will want to avoid confrontation with Kurds is merely an old memory. Since June 7, 2015, Kurdish voters have been isolated from the sphere of legitimacy of the government. Anti-Kurdish policies have become the methods of legitimization themselves.

Therefore, it is a great fallacy to expect that HDP withdrawing from the parliament or its municipalities can create a shockwave in Ankara.

But can such moves create a shockwave for Kurds?

Some people think that if Kurds are no longer represented in Ankara or within the municipalities they control, this would cause a loss of “ground” and would cause frustration in the public. Some people think the opposite.

It's not easy to guess the social consequences of politics. But as things stand, the government is happy about Kurds looking as though they are in the system while they are actively outside of it, and that this outlook is sustainable.

In order to make them look like they are part of the system, Kurds can go to the ballots, vote and even elect people. But those who they elect have a lifespan of a butterfly. The immunity of their members of parliament are valid until the police deems otherwise with tear gas.

So, are elections still an area of contestation for Kurds?

Maybe reversing the question can lead us to a healthier reply: If Kurds avoided elections or withdrew their elected representatives, would that create an area of contestation?

It would be difficult. 

Because, without these spaces of so-called representation, it wouldn’t be possible to contest anything, to say anything, or even speak to the press.

Hence, there is no field for HDP to conduct efficient politics should they leave the parliament and their remaining municipalities.

To summarize the views of many HDP members of parliament about this "field": "People are even scared to come to press conferences when there is no member of parliament present."

But when members of parliament are present, and are beaten and tear gassed in front of the public, doesn't that instill more fear in people?

In a system where you can elect someone but can't be represented, where you can be elected but can't govern, the best way forward is to compare the benefits with the costs and gauge the expectations of the masses, and act accordingly. 

But even regarding the masses, there is no common decision among HDP voters. Weighing this decision, making it visible, making it known that actions are being taken accordingly, could trigger people to wonder why HDP is “still” discussing these points.

A friend I had a quick word with today was saying: "HDP had to withdraw not to cause a shock in Ankara, but to leave the stage clear for this theater of ‘democracy.’ Let's let them have the municipalities and seats in parliament. Don't they see the effects on Kurds when people say things like ‘trustees hurt democracy’? Even creating a notion that there is still a run-down democracy in the country, or enduring fascism in practice — does it not create an expectation of not being against this?”

So what will happen when this expectation is no longer? Any "radical actions" taken without answering that question — how much of an impact will that have on Kurds and Turkey?

Political leaders have to act with all of this in mind just as they must respond with persuasive arguments when expectations of "radical action" are not met.

October 13, 2020 Journalism is a crime!