In several media I have heard or read that with including Hüda-Par in his alliance, Erdoğan is trying to appeal to Kurdish voters. Kurds are, after all, the ‘kingmakers’ in the upcoming elections, so having them on your side can make or break your success. Erdoğan has different strategies though, and they have nothing to do with elections strategies following rules of democracy.
Wanting ‘the Kurdish vote’ is wrong to begin with. It should be about wanting real change and about meeting the Kurdish demand of full recognition of its fundamental political and cultural rights. If that’s not the goal, aiming to ‘get the Kurdish vote’ will backfire.
An interesting case in point is the peace process that started in 2013. There was hope in the air that maybe, just maybe this time around real progress would be made and that the Kurdish issue in Turkey would come closer to a solution. But it unravelled two years later. Why? To sum it up as short as possible: Erdoğan discovered that he wasn’t gaining votes but that the peace process was actually working in favour of the HDP. And if it wasn’t making him stronger, what was the point of it at all?
I already knew that Erdoğan’s portrayal of himself as a statesman was a scam, but when he left the peace process even though it was a historical opportunity to take important steps, I was sure. Statesmen, after all, act on the interest of the country and its citizens, regardless of whether it keeps them in power or not, while power driven politicians act… well, as Erdoğan.
Of course, throughout its history, the AKP has had a pretty solid voter base among Kurds, but resorting to violence again in 2015 and especially starting a coalition with the ultra-nationalist MHP has eroded that support. Part of these voters will now vote for HDP (in these elections under the banner of the Yeşil Sol Parti), part of them won’t go to the ballot at all, disillusioned as they are.
Some people have speculated that maybe Erdoğan would start talks with the PKK again to turn the tide that is against him now that the opposition is uniting against him, but that doesn’t seem very likely at all. Not only because of course the MHP won’t approve of it, but also because of what happened between 2013 and 2015: the Kurdish movement will be rewarded for their decades long work to make it possible, not Erdoğan.
The suggestion that including Hüda-Par into the alliance will attract Kurdish voters, is just ludicrous. Hüda-Par is an extremist Islamist party that is directly rooted in Hizbullah, the violent gangs connected to the state that killed countless Kurds in the 1990s, as Fehim Işık explained in detail. A neglectable percentage of Kurds vote for Hüda-Par, and including it in the alliance doesn’t really gain Erdoğan any votes because Hüda-Par people already vote for the AKP.
Should we be surprised that the MHP accepted this presumably Kurdish party into the alliance? No. That Hüda-Par joins this alliance with the MHP in it, tells you more about what Hüda-Par really is than about the ‘acceptance’ by MHP of a ‘Kurdish’ party. Hüda-Par and the MHP have a lot in common. They love the state, they are deeply conservative, and inherently violent. A Hüda-Par voter summed it up chillingly clear in a video that went viral this week, saying: “I don’t vote for these dogs, atheists, heretics, heathens. … If they touch Erdoğan, we will cut off their heads” (article in English here). And the MHP, well, I don’t think I have to explain to readers of this column that the MHP is the Grey Wolf party, adhering to the fascist ideology that makes the Turkish army roll.
Women and girls
Erdoğan doesn’t seem so visible during this election campaign, I heard some commentators say with some surprise in their voices. We are six weeks away from the vote, so don’t worry, he will be more visible. But please, don’t think that Erdoğan is only visible if he talks at election rallies or gives ‘interviews’ to media, or invites ‘journalists’ to his airplane to give them quotes to throw around. His alliance makes him visible. His alliance reveals what might be in store.
He may win the elections, but that will be due to him being in control of not only most of the media but also of the country’s institutions. Then we will see what’s in store for women and girls, for the LGBT-community, for all marginalized groups and for everybody’s freedoms, including that of Kurds. He may also lose, despite all media and institutions being on his side. I hardly dare to say out loud what that might trigger. Hüda-Par completed the violence alliance, and it scares me to death.
Fréderike Geerdink is an independent journalist. Follow her on Twitter or subscribe to her acclaimed weekly newsletter Expert Kurdistan.