The People’s Democratic Congress (HDK) shared an open letter on Saturday in relation to the election negotiations among left-wing political parties in the Labour and Freedom Alliance established for 14 May elections.
The discussions in the alliance started after the Turkey’s Workers Party (TİP) officials rejected entering parliamentary elections under a joint single list this week, and announced that it preferred fielding its own candidates in certain locations.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) instead stated that it favoured a single united list in order to maximise the number of lawmakers from the alliance parties that could be elected.
The parties in the alliance met on Thursday and announced that they had reached a consensus, which implied that the HDP accepted to bend its position to a certain extent.
According to the consensus, there will be a united list for parties in the alliance, but those who want to field their own candidates in certain places will be able to do so as long as they do not risk the possible gains of the other alliance members.
“We are going through such decisive days that each detail defined in technical terms will have a reflection on the democracy and freedom struggle of the people,” said the HDK in its open letter.
The congress, which formed the basis of the HDP, said that the main component of the alliance policy in recent years was to deny any sacrifice in joint gains, adding that it believed this is also the right approach for the upcoming elections.
The HDK said in the letter that it was understandable for each alliance member to aim to increase their influence and voter support in the society, noting that such targets should be sought by taking into account the joint benefit of the whole alliance.
“In this critical turn, which will determine the destiny of not only those in power but also the people who are being oppressed, we need this principle of unity more than ever. In this process which is vital for the peoples of Turkey and Kurdistan, developing election tactics to make the ‘fascist block’ regress not only in presidential elections but also in the distribution of seats in the parliament is one of the reasons for the existence of the alliance policy,” the HDK said.
“Therefore, a tactic that does not focus on every single seat the ongoing regime will lose in the parliament will constitute a forfeit for all of us. In that regard, this period is one that necessitates to insist even more on joining revolutionary forces and to stay away from attitudes that will strengthen the perception in society that individual organisational gains have been prioritised,” the HDK added.
The HDK’s statement came after Ebru Günay, the spokeswoman of the HDP, said on Thursday that the dominant tendency among the alliance parties was to enter the elections under a joint list.
“There will be another meeting of the Labour and Freedom Alliance in a few days and our discussions continue. More comprehensive discussions will be held,” Günay said.
“Under these conditions of fascism, instead of making narrow party calculations, a formula that will make all democratic powers win should be found,” she said.
According to Turkey’s election rules, the parties in an alliance can choose one of the two options; either they run in elections under a joint single list or compete also with each other under separate lists but enter elections as an alliance. In the latter option, all parties in the alliance benefit from the overall votes the alliance receives in the parliamentary elections which is crucial for passing the 7 percent threshold to enter the parliament.
TİP, which believes that its vote base is different than that of the HDP’s, prefer a separate list at least in some provinces, according to the party’s spokeswoman Sera Kadıgil, who claimed this week that her party’s tactic will not harm others in the alliance.
According to political scientist Ali Sabuktay, running under separate lists especially in metropolitan cities like Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir, might cost the alliance five to six seats in parliament.
“First of all, even if there are some underlying political concerns, there was no reason to make this technical-tactical discussions in front of us, turning it into an area of tension,” Sabuktay told Duvar news site, implicitly referring to those in the alliance that have made the negotiations public.
“They should have protected the distance between inside and outside, what should be handled in the kitchen should not have been brought to the living room. I hope the oppositional actors have drawn sufficient lessons from this experience,” he said.
The political scientist said that although each party in the alliance had the right to protect its own interests, the opposition voters had seen such concerns as secondary issues.
“The government designed this new election system assuming that it will enter the elections under a single list, while other alliances will enter in separate lists,” Sabuktay said.
“According to the statement made by the Labour and Freedom Alliance and rumours, it is understood that the HDP will enter elections in all provinces, while the TİP will race with its own logo in at least 41 provinces under the alliance. Another point that is certain is that the TİP will not field candidates in places the HDP is strong. Hence, the alliance will not run in elections under a single list which was the most ideal scenario,” Sabuktay said.
“But the critical issue is lumped around the question on whether there are large cities in the 41 provinces the TİP will field its own candidates,” the political scientist added.
“If two different lists are offered in large cities, the Labour and Freedom Alliance might lose 5-6 parliamentary seats it will otherwise win,” Sabuktay said, adding that in İzmir, such a situation might benefit the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), while in places where the Justice and Development Party (AKP) will have the first place, this will increase the parliamentary representation of Turkey’s ruling alliance.