Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) called on Nov. 20 for an early election but ruled out withdrawing from parliament to protest the government’s dismissal of dozens of its mayors who were elected earlier this year.
Authorities have removed 24 mayors of the HDP since August, mainly due to alleged links to terrorism, and appointed replacements to run their municipalities.
Several members of the HDP had called for the party to withdraw from the national parliament or from local assemblies which the party still holds.
The HDP said in a statement on Nov. 20 that ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), were “stealing the will of the peoples” by appointing trustees.
“We say ‘early election’ for the peoples of Turkey to be rid of the AKP-MHP authority. This is a call for confrontation. We’re saying bring it on,” the party said in a 12-point declaration read by the co-chairs Pervin Buldan and Sezai Temelli.
“We call on all of the opposition to unite around this request for an early election and to take action,” the party declaration said, also appealing for a campaign of civil disobedience.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Vice Chair Veli Ağbaba said their party does not think that Turkey needs an early election, but this issue could be brought forward in places where the Interior Ministry appointed trustees.
“This is HDP’s own call [early election], we cannot say anything but as our Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu previously stated, we do not think that Turkey needs a new election. This can be discussed for places where trustees have been appointed, but an early election is not on our agenda,” Ağbaba told Turkish news site T24.
The HDP on Nov. 20 also ruled out withdrawing from national parliament or local assemblies, saying it had paid “heavy prices” to achieve gains and “will not withdraw from any area of struggle.”
The Turkish government accuses the HDP of having links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by Ankara, the United States and the European Union. The HDP denies any links to terrorism.
Hundreds of the HDP members, including its lawmakers and former co-leaders, have been put on trial on terrorism charges and many of those have been sentenced to jail. Former HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ have been behind bars since 2016.
The HDP has been the only party in the Turkish parliament that opposed Turkey’s operation in northeast Syria against the People’s Protection Units (YPG) that began on Oct. 9. Ankara views the YPG as a terrorist organization due to it being the Syrian affiliate of the PKK.