There is the talk of early elections, both on the street and in back rooms. There is an expectation that some change will occur. The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has a more critical part to play in Turkish politics. However, it seems that it won’t be easy for the HDP to keep their traditional voter base satisfied while becoming a more relevant actor in the upcoming political period.
The new presidential system in Turkey brought a necessity that the party that has been governing Turkey for the last 18 years probably did not fully calculate — namely, that the presidential system in Turkey is now based on an all-or-nothing election. Whoever gets over 50 percent rules, and the rest is null. However, gaining over 50 percent is not easy. Although it might not seem so at times, Turkish society is fairly fragmented politically as well as socially. Thus, Mr. Erdoğan has to look for alliances in order to retain his power. But at the same time, this new system led the opposition in Turkey to leave some of their differences behind and cooperate with one another. Smaller parties have gained importance. Thus bigger parties know they have to cooperate with the smaller parties to get over 50 percent.
One unexpected outcome of this new system had been the subtle cooperation between İYİ Party, which has Turkish nationalist roots and HDP, which has Kurdish nationalist roots. The two parties agreed to support the same candidates in the latest local elections. Thanks to that cooperation, opposition candidates won elections in the biggest Turkish cities, such as Ankara, Istanbul, Antalya, Adana, and İzmir.
However, what seems easy on paper may not turn out to be easy in real life. The co-chairs of HDP, Pervin Buldan and Sezai Temelli, gathered with some members of the press last week. Their aim was to explain themselves a little bit, and also hear from journalists.
Pervin Buldan underlined that they are expecting early elections in one and a half years. HDP seems to believe that the Erdoğan alliance with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the Great Unity Party (BBP) and the Patriotic Party (Vatan) will not be able to govern Turkey in the future. She also made clear that, no matter what, HDP will be supporting the opposition alliance’s presidential candidate. That was a straightforward and blunt statement by Buldan.
While Turkish journalists were more curious about the balance within the opposition alliance, Kurdish journalists sounded furious at times towards the HDP. Some voiced their dissatisfaction with the fact that HDP was not voicing demands for the right for education in Kurdish anymore. Some pointed out that since HDP was now defining itself as a party for all of Turkey, they felt there is no longer a party that fights for the rights of Kurds specifically. Some came forward and said people in Kurdish areas were feeling disappointed and left behind by the HDP.
Apparently, one task for the HDP is keeping the traditional voter base attached to them while being an active part of the new period that lies ahead for Turkish politics.