What should the HDP do in the critical context of Turkey’s election?

The HDP is the linchpin of this election, not only because of the fact that the side it favors will win the election, but also because it continues to do what it has always done while refraining from doing what it has not.

Day by day, the one-man regime of 21 years descends as democracy dawns in the horizon.

Such a time period is even more historic and critical than the reacquisition of democracy when the 30-year Republican People’s Party (CHP) one-man regime lost the election in 1950. To give this significance its due, let us review some details of this descent before discussing the matter at hand:

The regime was dealt three significant blows over the course of two days: 1) In addition to embracing HUDA PAR, known for its affiliation with Hezbollah, the regime was rejected by the New Welfare Party which it had resorted to inviting; 2) most importantly, Mehmet Simsek rejected the offer to lead the economy, saying he is not considering “active politics”; 3) disappointed by something they had taken for a given, the New Asia branch of the prominent Nur religious congregation declared its support for the Nation Alliance. I will not even get into the matter of the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) attacks on one of its very own, Ozlem Zengin.

Now desperate, the regime has heightened its pressure. A man who had lost 11 relatives in the earthquake was suspended from his job for texting, “[Erdogan] wants forgiveness from Adiyaman, I do not forgive him” on WhatsApp. The reputable German agency Deutsche Welle, which publishes in 30 languages, is being shut down, in effect, by being denied a license. 200 people in Diyarbakir and 224 others in Istanbul have been arrested merely for celebrating Nowruz. The list is extensive, but the news that “The web site announcing which sites have been blocked from access has been blocked from access” is a succinct summary of the situation.

The judiciary has long since received the signals of this descent. It has revoked some of the provisions of the State of Emergency law. It has begun to acquit people who had been impacted by the decree-laws, beginning with the Academics for Peace. The Court of Cassation ruled that the Herne Pes anthem is not terrorist propaganda, even though it had been criminalized many times before. There are many such examples from the last three days.

Another important signal: As the AKP continues to fall in the polls and as applications to become AKP deputies decrease, the same numbers are increasing for the CHP. It is gratifying to see Erdogan and Minister Soylu, who have the habit of speaking incessantly, fall silent in Turkey, where 81.9% of people now say, "The government was not prepared for the earthquake.”

If I am to continue listing the changes, the text might be enough for a few weeks. Instead, let us turn to the main topic.

Here is what the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) must do: Persistently continue to do whatever it has done in the past.

That is, in addition to working alongside leftist parties, it should continue its support of Kilicdaroglu, who turned out better than expected, from the outside. Kilicdaroglu is defending democracy against Erdogan on the one hand and the Good Party on the other, and this is in line with what the HDP wants.

The HDP’s most meaningful decision in this process was holding its meeting with the CHP not at its own headquarters, but at the Grand National Assembly, declaring openly that “The solution to all problems, including the Kurdish issue, begins at Parliament.”

Because, typically, such extensive problems only have two avenues for resolution: the plains and the mountains. Let this be a lesson to those who lambast the HDP for not explicitly condemning the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). What more could the HDP have said?

The HDP must resolutely maintain this enlightened attitude because Erdogan, who will implement a strategy of heightening tension as the election approaches, though the odds are slim, might be reelected and this would be catastrophic. Let us not forget the period between 2015 and 2018.

The HDP must meticulously maintain its complete alignment with Selahattin Demirtas, the most conscientious and trustworthy politician this country has ever seen. As it does so, the party must always keep in mind the question:

How is it that Selo, who almost mockingly says “I’m sending my tweets using the kettle,” continue to tweet from prison every day?

Could it be the case that the one-man regime is fostering this environment in the hopes that some sort of conflict can be created between Demirtas and the HDP administration?

The HDP should continue this rational policy without interruption. It should continue to advertise the fact that it is not a Kurdish party that wants the formation of Kurdistan, but a party of Turkey which demands democracy and equality, dashing the hopes of the AKP, the MHP, and the Good Party.

Turkey's democratization will create a solution to the Kurdish problem, that is assured. But the HDP's current approach to the Kurdish question will also be the linchpin of Turkish democracy, that is for sure.

Now let us talk about what the HDP should not do.

Really, everything they should not do is the simple outcome of everything they are doing currently but let us still talk explicitly about some tangible situations that should be avoided. What I have been implying is the untimely actions of the radical members of the HDP which could be potentially damaging to the democratic process and the party itself.

For a month, some HDP deputies have been holding “Justice Watches” in Parliament, condemning the laws and inhumane solitary confinement imposed on Ocalan. Previously, in 2022, they carried out demonstrations in front of the Ministry of Justice and outside the Cankaya gate of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and were blocked by the police. Since the blocked protestors were members of parliament, some people had inevitably “lost face.”

But there is something much more important: Radicals within the party announced on the HDP website at the beginning of February: "We will start the 'We are marching to Imrali for a solution' march and activities on February 6, starting from Yuksekova and Kiziltepe."

In other words, the 1,351 kilometers from Hakkari to Imrali will be walked in February, providing the one-man regime plenty of "opportunities,” the number and severity of which cannot be predicted.

This is perhaps the first time some are hearing of this march initiative since the terrible earthquake took place on the same date and the agenda shifted entirely to its coverage.

First of all, the protests against this isolation of Ocalan, which has not been seen anywhere else in the modern world except perhaps at Guantanamo, should not take priority. They say timing is everything.

Sure, the one-man regime has prevented Ocalan from seeing even his lawyer or his family since August 7, 2019, presumably because the regime could not get him to say the things they wanted. But it bears repeating, this law and inhumane situation can be prevented if, and only if, we can rid ourselves of the one-man regime and reconstruct democracy.

Moreover, putting aside this argument from the contrary, the fact that the Ocalan issue is being prioritized makes it very difficult to get rid of the one-man regime because it gives Erdogan and his affiliates the opportunity to present this to their voters as "an attempt to disintegrate Turkey.”

This leads me to the assumption that the HDP administration may have prevented other “radical” protest attempts that we have not heard of, though hope I am wrong, and these protest efforts are limited to the aforementioned issues.

Because the HDP is by far the most important party in this election.

It is not just that whichever side the HDP gives weight to will win the election.

Its great significance comes from it being consistent in doing what it has always done, and refraining from doing what it has not done.

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