The Turkish Constitutional Court (AYM) should issue its ruling on whether the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) should be shut down after the upcoming elections in the country, HDP Co-chair Mithat Sancar said in a televised interview on Tuesday.
The interview on Haber Türk marked the end of a long-term screen ban against the party.
“Entering the election period with this threat will hinder not only the HDP but the democratic and just progression of the elections,” Sancar said. “The decision should either be made in a manner that won’t affect elections, or officially be deferred until after the elections are held. We want this for Turkey.”
The party, facing threat of shut down on allegations of ties with terrorism, has already completed studies on ways to participate in parliamentary elections, Sancar said, in worst-case scenario preparation that started “early on”.
“I want to maintain my faith until the last minute that the AYM will rule in accordance with the law and their conscience, but the situation is what it is,” Sancar said. “It would be naïve to believe this case will be decided only in a court room. We are not naïve. It is clear that the government will have an influence in a decision either way.”
“There are quite esteemed members of the AYM. Some of them are my colleagues, others were my students. I do not doubt there are people who will act in decency regarding the law and conscience,” said Sancar, a former professor of law at the Ankara University.
“We cannot be naïve. The issue is how the future of a society will be shaped, not just a party’s,” he continued.
To stop “all ways” the HDP could run in elections would require Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) “would have to declare openly and clearly that they are suspending the constitution”, Sancar said. “And if all ways are cut off, we will surely find another.”
HDP’s “numbers and political power” will be reflected in election results, come what may, the co-chair continued. His party is currently the third largest in parliament, and the second largest opposition voting bloc.
“The issue is to run in parliamentary elections,” Sancar said. “And in all reality, whether the party is shut down or not will not affect presidential elections.”
The progression of the case, namely the AYM approving a prosecution demand to freeze Treasury assets for the party, appears to be “an operation to design the election process and the political balance”, Sancar said. “This is an intervention on democracy, and should not be seen as the HDP’s problem.”
HDP is preparing for a rally on 15 January, as part of its election campaign and the first edition of its alliance meetings.
While not part of the opposition’s People’s Alliance, the party has lent its support to alliance candidates in the 2019 local elections, making possible a landslide victory for main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) victory in most major cities including megacity Istanbul and capital Ankara. Recent disagreements may result in HDP pulling its support from the alliance, instead putting up its own presidential candidate with a smaller, more left-wing alliance.
“We already said we agreed to a joint opposition candidate running on pre-negotiated and agreed upon principles and platforms. We did not force our own conditions. Our party polls between 12 and 15 percent. Such a party has already agreed to take on a constructive role in paving a way towards democracy in Turkey,” Sancar said.
“We make proposals, speak clearly and directly, in order to get rid of this darkness and this system where authoritarianism sets in deeper every day,” he continued. “But we haven’t seen other opposition parties take any steps.”
Plans are underway for HDP’s Labour and Democracy Alliance to pose its own candidate, “not to benefit the AKP or harm others”, Sancar said. “But this manner of engaging with politics is not enough to take Turkey out of the quagmire it finds itself in.”
“Why would our voters want us to wait for the Six-way Table’s (opposition) candidate? HDP is being responsible towards its own voters. … We want politics done while seeing reality,” Sancar continued. “What do those who criticise us for ‘giving the AKP an advantage’ expect from us? To stay silent? ‘Vote for us, then Allah will find a way’ is not a solution for Turkey.”