Associating Turkey’s pro-Kurdish HDP with violence is a form of political violence

Secular politics in Turkey follow a very peculiar modus operandi. It has come to be a type of politics that is formed more so by people who espouse values such as laïcité, Westernism and modernity. This political sphere in Turkey contains two main parties.

One of these is the main opposition secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP), which forms the left-wing of the opposition Nation Alliance, while the right-wing of the alliance is formed by the centre-right nationalist Good Party. Of course, there are other parties, but I will not include them in the following evaluation due to their diminutive nature.

It is very normal that every identity has within it (beneath its top layer) certain variations. However, the current political system and the competitive pressure formed over our current political parties force identities to consolidate themselves within their own being. Because pressure has a unifying effect, it becomes a necessity that differences within an identity simply coexist. This is the dynamic on which relations have been formed between the Nation Alliance’s CHP and Good Party.

Upon examining the formation of the political sphere in Turkey, one sees that it is only possible to break the power of the ruling People’s Alliance – formed by the Justice and Development Party and its junior partner, the Nationalist Movement Party – through the inclusion of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). In other words, the strongest formula for a change in Turkey’s ruling power lies with the HDP.

I have a difficult time understanding secular critics who are increasingly questioning or seemingly gauging the HDP as they call for the party to distance itself from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). I say this, because this is precisely the type of question or statement that is looking to widen the distance between the HDP and the Nation Alliance.

In other words, the call for the HDP to distance itself from the PKK actually serves the purpose of calling for the party to distance itself from the Nation Alliance. It then becomes necessary to ask if the oft-repeated phrase “The HDP must distance itself from the PKK’’ does not serve the ruling alliance, then who does it benefit?

In truth, secular politics in Turkey has followed a course that opts to remain within parameters drawn by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, even though this is never openly expressed by politicians in the secular sphere. For example: how else can you explain how the CHP accepts the argument put forth by President Erdoğan, for the sake of his own political future, that the HDP is a political extension of the PKK, and the main opposition party distances itself from HDP? And how about the Good Party’s dislike for the HDP?

President Erdoğan’s designation of the HDP as a party associated with violence is a vehicle he finds most meaningful for his own political future. This allows him to once again seize power through the People’s Alliance voters and maintain a grip over Turkey. The ruling alliance’s association of the HDP with violence is itself a form of political violence.

Creating tension over differences in society is a means of creating an environment of violence. The political violence in Turkey today is the work of Erdoğan’s government.

Let me very clear. The HDP is a political party, which conducts democratic politics to protect the rights of all identities who have been wronged, beginning with Kurds. The party does this in a way that renders veering into political violence meaningless.

Turkey’s secular political circles must be able to form a statement that is as clear and definitive as the one above. Can they do so? Will they do so? We don’t know the answer to these questions.

But we are waiting.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.

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