Turkey’s main opposition leader and presidential challenger Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said the ruling People’s Alliance had come to uphold violence against women, in light of the latest developments in the country’s election frenzy.
“The latest developments clearly show that the religious youth also belong with the Nation Alliance,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. “It saddens me to see that the People’s Alliance has become a union that defends violence against women.”
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) met with the small Islamist New Welfare Party (YRP) last week to negotiate cooperation in a bid to extend its People’s Alliance with right-wing constituents in the country.
The YRP is chaired by the son of the late Necmettin Erbakan, a former prime minister and founder of the Milli Görüş (“National Vision”) movement. Almost all founding members of the AKP, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, started their political careers as part of that movement and the YRP’s predecessor Welfare Party (RP).
YRP officials have announced some 30 demands that they have put to the AKP to be agreed on as conditions for an alliance. Among the demands are the removal of spousal maintenance laws and laws protecting women against violence, the banning of LGBT organisations, and a shift in the education system to one that “prioritises morality and spirituality”.
Deputy chairman Doğan Aydal said in a live broadcast that the AKP had remarked that there were “no problems at all” with the YRP’s demands.
Laws on violence against women have been at the centre of political debate since Erdoğan signed a presidential order in March 2021 to withdraw Turkey from the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, despite widespread opposition to the withdrawal and little support from extreme right factions.
Both the Istanbul Convention and Law No.6284, Turkey’s domestic Law on the Protection of the Family and the Prevention of Violence against Women, were devised after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) convicted Turkey for its failure in the case of Nahide Opuz, whose husband murdered her despite her multiple appeals to the authorities for protection.
A strong objection to the erosion of women’s rights in the country has dominated street-level politics in the country for years, with feminist and women’s rights groups regularly holding large rallies and demonstrations demanding a return to the Convention and better enforcement of current laws.
While the Nation Alliance is led by Kılıçdaroğlu’s centre-left secular Republican People’s Party (CHP), it includes the Future Party (GP) and the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), founded by former top cadres of the AKP, as well as the Felicity Party (SP), another small group coming from the same RP tradition.