Turkey’s Constitutional Court postponing the date of Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) oral defence in the case on the party’s closure until April is “clearly” an effort to have the case coincide with the election calendar, HDP Co-chair Mithat Sancar told reporters on Friday.
“This case should not be heard during the election period, to start with,” Sancar said, voicing the party’s objections.
HDP had appealed to postpone the defence date by at least three months, according to Sancar, due to extraordinary circumstances brought on by the 6 February twin earthquakes that devastated 10 eastern provinces in the country. “There are many points to discuss. This case was filed 24 months ago, so could the court that waited 24 months not wait one more month, is the question we and the public both have,” Sancar said.
The party’s appeals have been geared towards postponing the hearing of the case until after the elections, which will be held on 14 May as announced by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday.
If the case is not postponed, there is no legal assurance that the HDP, which won more than 11 percent of the vote in the last elections, would not be shut down just before the elections, Sancar explained. The outcome of a party shut down after MP lists are finalised would “have very severe consequences for Turkey’s democracy”, the co-chair said.
“As a party that represents such strong, dynamic masses who will play a key role for change in Turkey, it is not possible that we allow in any way the possibility of a future parliament or political scene without the HDP,” Sancar continued.
“We are the key and the most dynamic force for the democratic transformation of Turkey. We have extremely strong support from the people. It is unthinkable for us that such a party is not included in politics or the parliament in the coming term that holds such critical importance,” he said. “It is not right that this uncertainty continues. I expect the Constitutional Court to tend towards prudence in its new rulings.”
The Court of Cassation’s Chief Public Prosecutor launched the process to shut down the HDP two years ago, with an indictment that accuses the party of having become a “focal point for terroristic activity”. If the Constitutional Court agrees, almost 500 top officials of the party, including MPs, co-chairs and mayors, will be banned from holding office due to alleged ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The Kurdish vote, estimated at about 15 percent of the total in the country, is key in determining the outcome of the all-important presidential race, as neither the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) nor the opposition’s Nation Alliance is able to win the 50-percent-plus-one vote necessary under the current system.