Nergis Demirkaya / DUVAR
The countdown has begun for the 2023 elections, which all political parties, from the ruling to the opposition, consider "historical."
Calling for a "third way" apart from the two alliances of the ruling and opposition parties, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) set out to become a new option, a center of power, with the Labor and Freedom Alliance, which consists of 6 political parties, namely Workers’ Party (TİP), Labor Party (EMEP), Social Freedom Party (TÖP), Labor Movement Party (EHP), Socialist Assemblies Federation (SMF).
HDP co-chair Mithat Sancar told Gazete Duvar that the alliance will talk about the formulas of entering the elections together when the time comes, and they now focus on expanding and strengthening their alliance. Sancar said getting less than 15 percent of the votes in the upcoming elections, that is planned to be held in June 2023, will not be a success for them.
Sancar also stated that his party is prepared for a possible closure decision of the Constitutional Court (AYM) for the HDP as a result of the pending case.
Below are the questions asked by Gazete Duvar and the HPD leader’s answers:
After the mining disaster in Amasra, a research commission was established in the Parliament with the support of all parties. How do you evaluate such a disaster after Soma?
What happened in Amasra is not an accident, but a clear massacre, a murder. There is the Court of Accounts report (that says there is a rising risk of explosion). There are analyzes in the reports from which we can conclude that the massacre is almost certain to occur.
We are faced with a system based on the greed for profit, which sees unlimited exploitation as legitimate and permissible. I can say that this system has three pillars: political power, capital and bureaucracy. Capital is driven by the greed for unlimited profit, so human life does not matter. The political power protects and guards this capital, which disregards human life. As a matter of fact, we know that most of the mines are operated by pro-government businesses. The bureaucracy, on the other hand, acts in line with the needs of political power and capital.
(An explosion in a coal mine on Oct. 14 killed 41 workers in Turkey’s northern Bartın province. In 2014, 301 workers were killed in Turkey’s worst ever mining disaster in the western town of Soma.)
You founded the Labor and Freedom Alliance and announced the declaration. Will the alliance evolve into an electoral alliance? What kind of alliance formula are you talking about? For example, how many parties will be on the ballot?
We decided to form a "democracy alliance" as a strategic goal as a party. We have defined the basis of this alliance, which aims to bring together all the exploited, excluded, marginalized, victimized, oppressed segments, as "union of struggle, partnership of struggle."
This alliance is one that we attach great importance to. Our main goal is to further enlarge and expand it. We will of course discuss what kind of formula we will develop as the elections approach. However, at the moment, electoral issues do not form the main agenda of the alliance.
The basis of our work is not primarily elections, but partnership of struggle; I must rephrase that. However, the election is also a fact and the upcoming elections are of historical importance.
Every day we face new attacks, bans and pressures. It is not difficult to predict that there will be many more moves by the government, such as the "censorship law," as the election approaches.
With this alliance, you want to grow even more and have more deputies. What is your goal numerically?
Let's be clear, our biggest goal is to create a power center that will pave the way for democratic transformation in Turkey. We want to strengthen our key party position in all areas. This encompasses all areas imaginable, from the Kurdish issue to the democracy issue, from the labor issue to the women's issue.
We want to create a numerically and politically strong position that will determine the decisions taken in the parliament. I can say that we set ourselves 15 percent as the threshold. This is the lower limit for us.
Two political alliances emerged in the opposition. Looking at the mathematics required for a change in power, it seems that the opposition must act together. Does your alliance have a relationship with the other six opposition parties, including Nation Alliance parties? You said that you want to negotiate on the presidential candidate. Is there any development or contact in this context?
We said that we are open to discuss the idea of a joint candidate through open negotiations and direct dialogue. We have repeatedly stated that if the method and framework we propose is not accepted, participating in the presidential elections with our own candidate is the most important option. Our goal is not to relieve the other alliance or expect anything from them.
It is the right thing to end the presidential election in the first round. It is the ideal situation for a candidate who emerged with a program that will pave the way for democratization and peace in Turkey, to win in the first round.
In the last parliamentary group meeting, President Erdoğan called CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu to be candidate, saying "As long as you trust yourself, come before me." How do you view Kılıçdaroğlu becoming a presidential candidate?
Our policy is clear: We do not discuss names. Even if a name is to be discussed, it will be within the party mechanisms first.
You drew attention to the decision-making mechanism within the party. Jailed former HDP co-chair Demirtaş is criticized over 'harming the HDP's corporate identity and the collective politics being carried out.' Is there a disagreement between Demirtaş and HDP?
There may be differences of opinion between us and our friend Selahattin Demirtaş. We know that we would have much more discussion opportunities if he was not in prison. We are a pluralist party. We have a unique structure made up of independent individuals. It is the nature of things to have different opinions.
However, it is one thing to have different opinions, to be "separate" is another matter. Having discussions is an indication that we have a democratic understanding, structure and institutional mechanisms.
There may be differences of opinion between Demirtaş and us, this is true. But the main difference between us is the prison walls. I think that Demirtaş's main purpose is to support party policies.
'WE HAVE MADE ALL OUR PREPARATIONS AGAINST THE POSSIBILITY OF PARTY CLOSURE'
Another important topic discussed is the legal guarantee for the headscarf. You have declared that you will not say no to a legal, constitutional change in this regard. However, President Erdoğan says he wants to add a change in the definition of family to the proposal. What will be the attitude of your party if a constitutional amendment proposal is made in this way?
There is a provision that we propose for constitutional amendment. We are ready to enter the constitutional amendment debate on a solid framework that will prevent all forms of discrimination. However, it is out of the question for us to support any change that reduces the issue only to the headscarf and aims to cut women's rights by including the family.
Our formula is as follows: "The state considers all faiths, mother tongues and ethnic identities constituting the common cultural heritage of the country as equal. It is obliged to ensure that these are protected, used and developed." If such a proposal comes with the participation of all opposition parties, we are open to discussion. We will of course contribute to a change aimed at preventing all forms of discrimination.
However, we firmly and unequivocally oppose any attempt to directly or indirectly restrict, curtail or devalue women's rights. HDP is a women's party and it is the movement with the most influential mass in the women's struggle.
While HDP's closure case was pending in the Constitutional Court (AYM), Muhterem İnce, the former deputy Interior Minister Minister, was elected to the AYM. There may also be a change of AYM chair in January. There are claims that "the change of chair is expected for the decision of the closure case." Do you also associate these changes in the Constitutional Court with the closure case? And are your options ready in case of closure?
Even when Turkey's domestic law is respected, let alone the universal law, a closure decision should not be ruled for the HDP. If the members act based on the law and conscience, this decision will not be made. However, we all know that the government establishes a strong tutelage in the judiciary as in every other field.
Seeing that every move is possible, we made our preparations for every possibility. For emphasis, I am not saying "we are being prepared," I am saying "we are prepared." We have updated and strengthened our options by evaluating each stage separately. We will definitely create ways to reflect this strong and faithful support of the people in the elections in the most effective way.
(English version by Alperen Şen)