Why would the HDP nominate a candidate?

The opposition parties have left no way forward but to conduct open meetings with the HDP.

On Sunday, at the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) Igdir Province Congress, Pervin Buldan repeated her statement: “I made an announcement in Kars yesterday that the HDP would announce its own candidate to participate in the election. This has been the only topic of argument since then, whether or not the HDP will run a candidate. Why shouldn’t we? How is the HDP any different from any of you? Does HDP not represent a will within this country? Is the HDP not a political party? Does it not have the right to participate in elections? Does it not have the will to change and transform this country? Keeping all this in mind, I would like to reiterate that the HDP will put forth a candidate with its allies.”

Just as Buldan said, the HDP’s candidacy has been the talk of the political agenda. Though the Table of Six might be playing possum, it is clear that the public is ready for a response from all relevant groups. In layman’s terms, the ball of flame now sits on their lap.

The Workers’ Party of Turkey (TIP) and the Labor Party (EMEP) from the Labor and Freedom Alliance* stated that, contrary to Buldan’s statements, they were more sympathetic to the idea of a joint candidate. Clearly, the debate is ongoing behind the scenes. Well then, what does the HDP aim to achieve with the “nominating a candidate” strategy even without the full consensus of its own alliance?

The nationalist faction, with a hostility left over from the peace process, continues to espouse the view that “the Kurds will agree with the [Justice and Development Party] AKP. An autonomy agreement has already been made within the dictatorship.”

This is not particularly logical. The HDP does not want to enter the elections without funds and without a party. Moving the elections to an earlier date will be to the advantage of the HDP which is racing against time. Shutting down the party 20 days before the elections might further undermine Erdogan’s legitimacy in the eyes of the world. Erdogan might fear the cost of shuttering the HDP. As such, the HDP sees a vital advantage in bringing the election forward.

Backstage political groups report that the election date favored by the AKP is either May 7 or May 14.

If the elections are held in April, the third-term candidacy debate would escalate.

Therefore, the possibility of HDP voting “yes” on the measure to bring forward the election represents a serious bargaining chip. Despite this, the HDP is not talking to the AKP as it nominates its candidate and neither is it bargaining, it is only indicating a position. The AKP’s meeting request with the HDP on the topic of a constitutional amendment was denied. The nationalist rhetoric is still the same old empty rhetoric.

The HDP is following a very precise policy as it sets forth a candidate. It is forcing the Republican People’s Party (CHP) to not fold to the Good Party. It is pushing the Table of Six to align itself more closely with democratic values.

A HDP official whom I talked to characterized the situation as follows: “In September 2021, we published a Position Paper. We specifically wrote this document with the most fundamental rights, the most acceptable proposals. For over 16 months now, we have been calmly making a call for an open meeting. We call the Table of Six to inclusive politics. There has been no tangible development other than behind the scenes talks in secluded corners. They are practicing ghosting politics. The CHP can and should find a way other than always leaning to the right. 45 days ago, our Co-Chair Mithat Sancar announced that we are working on our candidacy. They ignored him. Now we will choose our candidate. Unfortunately, I think the candidate will not be allowed to run from prison. The regime used the law to block all our paths through underhanded tactics. Our candidate will be the one who is the most inclusive, has the most democratic discourse, and is undisputed.”

During the Table of Six’s meeting which lasted nine hours, all the bank accounts of a party which holds 10-15% of the voting band were frozen, and the closure of the party is imminent. Even in as grave a situation as this, the Table was unable to string together two words in objection.

In the leadup to the election, the HDP is going to a find a candidate that has not been banned from politics, is going to find a party, is going to find money, is going to find motivation, is going to call people to “unpermitted” meetings and to the ballot, is going to make them wait at the ballot box, is going to ask them to guarantee the security of the election, and is going to make them face the police baton, the jail cell, and murder.

The HDP is going to do all this for the Nation Alliance.** It is going to ensure an electoral victory without wasting its 10-15% of votes.

Is this honorable politics?

Can it be so?

The HDP will nominate a candidate, the candidate will explain democratic values to the people, will propose solutions to problems, will instill them with a dream for the future, will speak without cowering in front of the regime.

If open meetings for a joint candidate begin, they retain the chance that the HDP candidate drops out of the race before the first run and endorses the joint candidate.

If open meetings do not take place, we will have the opportunity to see the full scale of the HDP’s sway in politics. In the first run, the HDP will work for its own candidate with all its might. Then we will see what percentage of the vote is held by the Nation Alliance, and what percent is held by the HDP.

They will have to give up on their hopes of winning against Erdogan in the first run, and they will resort to holding open meetings in the second run.

At this point, there is no other way.

In layman’s terms, the ball of flame now sits on the CHP’s lap.

*The Labor and Freedom Alliance is an electoral alliance established in August 2022 which consists of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Workers’ Party of Turkey (TIP), Labour Party (EMEP), Laborist Movement Party (EHP), Social Freedom Party (TOP), and Federation of Socialist Councils (SMF).

**The Nation Alliance consists namely of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Good Party, the Felicity Party, and the Democrat Party (DP).

*Hayko Bagdat was born in Istanbul in 1976, as the fourth child of an ethnic Greek mother and an Armenian father. After attending the Armenian schools Esayan and Mkhitaryan, he began studying history at Istanbul University in 1994. Due to the unexpected death of his father, he was unable to complete his studies. He began his journalism career in 2002 with a program on a radio station covering minority issues for the first time in Turkey, and worked as a journalist, columnist and commentator for Turkey's mainstream media. In 2007, Bagdat was among the founders of the "Friends of Hrant" group, which was formed after the murder of journalist Hrant Dink and that continues its search for justice. Bagdat's first book on being an Armenian and 'the other' in Turkey, Salyangoz (Snail) was published in 2014, his second book, Gollik, in 2015, and his third book, Kurtulus Cok Bozuldu, in 2016. His one-man stage performance "Salyangoz," based on his book, thrilled audiences in many cities in Turkey in 2016 and was subsequently acclaimed with tours all over the world. In 2017, Bagdat moved to Germany and continues to work as a journalist and producer in Berlin.

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