Duvar English

Turkey’s presidential system blocks a possible solution to the years-long Kurdish issue, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Mithat Sancar said, adding that opposition parties need to bring democracy forward.

“This system blocks a solution. The government makes bringing the discussions on the most basic subjects regarding the Kurdish issue to agenda impossible,” Sancar told Medyascope on May 21, adding that the party shifted its focus to solving the democracy problem to ensure that the Kurdish issue can be discussed better as a result of the system.

“We focused on the basic democracy problem that we see the Kurdish issue as being a part of. This doesn’t mean that we put our suggestions for a solution on hold. It means that our efforts focused on creating politics to pave a way for these issues to be discussed better,” he added.

Mithat Sancar

Turkish voters said “yes” to shifting the country’s governance system to an executive presidency with a controversial referendum on constitutional amendments on April 16, 2017.

The country shifted to the system officially on July 9, 2018, replacing a 95-year-old parliamentary system.

The system granted sweeping powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and allowed him to be both the leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the president at the same time.

‘Local democracy’

During the interview, Sancar said that their party program hasn’t changed much, adding that bringing concrete solutions to the Kurdish issue to agenda in this “authoritarian oppressive governance” seem to be problematic due to it possibly overshadowing the main problem.

“The title of our solution to the Kurdish issue may have changed, but the content hasn’t. We deem more appropriate to call it local democracy. It needs to be seen that various systems necessary for a local democracy can be included in that,” Sancar said.

“There is an authoritarian oppressive government that has been getting more serious. It has been pursuing a very harsh politics of war. In this case, bringing a concrete solution to the Kurdish issue to agenda seems problematic due to possibly overshadowing the other aim of struggle,” he added.

Saying that the new system forces alliances between parties, Sancar noted that normalization and meeting on the grounds of democracy is needed.

‘The Kurdish issue is intertwined with the democracy issue’

When asked to comment on Ahmet Şık’s resignation and the criticism aimed at the party as a result, Sancar said that the HDP aims to be a party of the entire country.

Şık, who is also a journalist, on May 4 said that he was resigning from the party “due to the insistence of a dominant understanding in the party management, excluding our co-chairs, on a stance far away from democratic practices, contrary to the HDP’s power, meaning and values.”

His resignation prompted debate on the party’s focus on the Kurds and the Kurdish issue.

“The HDP was founded to try something unique and difficult. When we look at the parties from the Kurdish political tradition in the past 30 years, we see that they’re based on the Kurdish issue and appeal to the Kurds. The HDP is also in continuation of that tradition and it’s very clear that it takes the Kurdish issue as the main subject,” Sancar said, adding that the party offers solutions to various problems of Turkey.

“The Kurdish issue is intertwined with the democracy issue. There is no way to establish democracy in Turkey without finding a solution to the Kurdish issue,” he added.