Following an emergency meeting on Wednesday, Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and Green Left Party declared their strong opposition to trustee appointments, which they deem as a violation of democracy and the rule of law.
The parties announced that they would disclose their definitive position regarding the upcoming presidential run-off elections scheduled for 28 May in a statement to be issued tomorrow.
The central executive committees of the two parties convened in response to the protocol signed on Wednesday between the opposition’s joint presidential candidate, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, and the leader of the far-right Victory Party (ZP), who expressed his endorsement for the upcoming election.
The recently revealed protocol between Kılıçdaroğlu and Özdağ has unveiled its specifics, with the appointment of trustees to local administrations emerging as the focal point of debate.
The protocol includes a provision stating that mayors will be replaced by state-appointed trustees if there is any legal evidence of their involvement in terrorism.
The protocol’s stance on replacing mayors with trustees caused some debate, as following the 2019 local elections, many mayors from the HDP were replaced by state-appointed trustees after being detained on terrorism charges. In their programme, Kılıçdaroğlu’s six-party alliance, the Nation Alliance, had previously pledged to put an end to this practice, emphasising that elected officials should remain in office unless convicted by a court.
In their official statement, the HDP and Green Left strongly criticised the protocol announced by Mr Kılıçdaroğlu, deeming it a contradiction to fundamental democratic principles. They firmly expressed their clear and unwavering stance against trustee practices, emphasizing that these practices not only affect specific regions like Diyarbakır (Amed) but also have a broader impact on Istanbul and the entire nation as a whole. The parties further asserted that the existing problems in Turkey stem from practices that deviate from universal democratic principles, with particular emphasis on electoral laws and trustee policies that undermine the will of the people and local democracy.
It is worth noting that there is a subtle distinction between the current practice and the protocol, as the latter suggests that such convicted local administrators can be dismissed from mayoral positions only by judicial ruling rather than by governmental decree, as has been the case currently.
However, a notable disparity arises between the commitment outlined in the Nation Alliance’s program and the protocol endorsed by Özdağ and Kılıçdaroğlu. According to the Nation Alliance’s program, in the event that the trustee practice is enforced through legislation, the replacement for the affected local official should be an individual elected by the municipal council. The protocol signed by Özdağ and Kılıçdaroğlu indicates that “the appointment of state officials will persist based on a judicial decision.” This discrepancy raises questions and potential concerns regarding the precise approach to be taken regarding the appointment of officials in such circumstances.