Will the men’s alliance in Turkey’s politics dissolve this time?
By now it has become certain that both the presidential and the general elections will be held on May 14, 2023. In the current context, it is not possible to expect any positive steps towards the equal representation of women in politics and in parliament from the political parties that form the government which has withdrawn from the Istanbul Convention, which does not fulfill its obligations to prevent violence against women, which sets law enforcement on women every November 25th and March 8th, which regards women as second-class citizens, and which tries to confine them in the home a little more each day.
Neither is there a pleasant picture of the representation of women in politics among the ranks of the opposition, all of whom have different views on gender equality than do the ruling parties. Evidently, though various coalitions are created then dissolved in the pursuit of any number of goals, it is not so easy to break up this alliance of men in institutional politics.
This article aims to present the state of women's representation in the political parties that constitute the Nation Alliance and the Labor and Freedom Alliance, which frequently talk about gender equality, and which claim to struggle to build a new democratic and egalitarian republic in the country.
First and foremost, let us look at the representation of women in the decision-making bodies of the parties in these alliances.
THE NATION ALLIANCE
There are six political parties in the Nation Alliance, and only one of the six political parties, the Good Party, has chairperson who is a woman. None of these parties have a co-chairmanship system.
Five of the 17 Central Executive Board members of the Republican People's Party (CHP), or 29.4 percent, are women.
There are 18 people on the Good Party's executive board, apart from Chairwoman Meral Aksener. Four of the 18 people on the board, that is, 22 percent, are women.
There are 20 members in the executive board of the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), apart from Chairman Ali Babacan. Seven of the 20 members that make up the board, that is, 35 percent, are women.
There are three women on the executive board of the Future Party, which consists of 19 members. Here, the rate is 15.7 percent.
There are 18 members on the executive board of the Felicity Party, apart from Chairman Temel Karamollaoglu. Only one of the 18 board members is a woman. This sole female member is the leader of the party's Women's Branch.
There are 15 members on the board of the Democratic Party, apart from Chairman Gultekin Uysal. Two of the 15 people are women. This rate is 13 percent.
As for the representation of women among the parliamentary deputies of these parties:
The CHP has 134 seats in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Sixteen of the 134 CHP deputies in the parliament, that is, only 11.94 percent, are women.
The Good Party has 37 seats in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Two of the 37 Good Party deputies in parliament, that is, only 5.4 percent of their deputies, are women.
The Democratic Party has 2 deputies. Both of these deputies are men.
The DEVA Party and the Felicity Party each have one deputy in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Both of these MPs are men.
THE LABOR AND FREEDOM ALLIANCE
The Labor and Freedom Alliance consists of five political parties and one civil society organization.
A co-chairmanship system is used in the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). One co-chair is a man, the other is a woman.
In addition to the co-chairs, HDP's board has 30 members. Fourteen of these board members, that is, 46.6 percent of the total, are women.
Unfortunately, there is no information about the governing bodies on the websites of the other parties in the alliance, namely the Workers' Party of Turkey (TIP), the Labor Party, the Labor Movement Party (EHP), and the Social Freedom Party (TOP). This lack of information hinders any sound assessment. That being said, the leader of TIP is a man, the spokesperson of the party is a woman. The leader of the Labor Party is a man. The leader of the EHP is a man, the spokesperson of the party is a woman. The TOP’s chairperson is a woman.
As for the representation of women among the deputies of these parties:
Among the constituent parties of the Labor and Freedom Alliance, only the HDP and the TIP have seats in parliament.
Twenty-two of the 56 HDP deputies, or 39 percent, are women.
One of the 4 MPs from TIP is a woman. Here, the rate is 25 percent.
The numbers show that the heads of most of the political parties in both alliances are men. The overwhelming majority of the governing bodies and deputies of almost all the political parties in both alliances are men. In other words, no matter what is written in the party programs or what the party spokespersons claim, in practice, the opposition parties have not made our could not make enough progress on the matter of women’s representation in political life.
In this regard, it should be said that the HDP has positively differentiated itself from all other political parties. Using quotas in the candidacy applications, as well as other affirmative action policies, seems to have yielded results. Yet even in the HDP, 50 percent women's representation has not yet been achieved in all fields.
According to the statistics of the Supreme Election Council regarding the presidential and general elections held in 2018, the total number of voters in Turkey and abroad was 59,369,960 and 50.56 percent of these voters were women. This is a natural consequence of the equal number of men and women in the Turkish population.
In other words, half of the country's population and the people who vote in the elections are women, yet women cannot take part in the administration of political parties and in parliament on an equal degree with men, despite their efforts to organize towards this end for years. As a matter of fact, only 100 of the 577 deputies currently in the Turkish Grand National Assembly are women. In other words, only 17.33 percent of MPs are women. In light of this data, it is not an exaggeration to say that both our political institutions and the TGNA constitute a men's alliance.
As this is the state of affairs and while the application process for candidacy to become a member of parliament is still ongoing, I would like to make a call to the political parties among the opposition.
Aim for half of the candidate lists to consist of women so that gender equality does not become an empty promise.
Take measures to encourage more women to apply for candidacy. Implement further affirmative action policies regarding nomination fees and conditions.
Ensure equal representation of women in your bodies that review applications for candidacy.
When creating your final list of candidates, choose female candidates from among the candidates with similar qualifications.
Do not put women only at the bottom of the lists. Aim for half of the electable candidates to be women.
We are envisioning a new republic, a country in which democracy reigns supreme. Then do what must be done to ensure equal representation in the cadres who will establish this new republic and democracy. If there is no equality in the personnel, how will you ensure equality in the system?
Nurcan Kaya: Kaya is a lawyer specializing in human rights, especially minority rights, equality, and non-discrimination, within the scope of international human rights and European Union law, as well as the ECHR judiciary. She is a member of the Diyarbakir Bar Association.
Kaya holds a master's degree in international human rights law from the University of Essex. She has worked as an expert and researcher at Istanbul Bilgi University Human Rights Law Application and Research Center. She worked as the Turkey Director at Global Dialogue, as a non-discrimination law expert and as Turkey and Cyprus coordinator at the International Minority Rights Group (MRG).