Democratic Autonomy has Triumphed
Huseyin Ali ANALYSIS on Turkey General Elections
The AKP (Justice and Development Party) has increased its votes and led the race in the election. The fact that the AKP has won the election following a campaign where it defended capital punishment is an indication of the public’s mentality in Turkey.
It is evident that the chauvinist mentality of politicians has poisoned the public’s minds as well. However, despite an increase in the AKP’s votes, the true victors in the election have been the independent candidates of the Labour, Freedom and Democracy Bloc. This has meant that the official policies on the most fundamental issue, the Kurdish issue, have been defeated.
Although the AKP has increased its votes in Turkey, compared to the 2007 election, it has lost many votes in Kurdistan. It is clear that the AKP has compensated for the votes lost in Kurdistan by taking 5% from the Saadet (Prosperity) Party and Demokrat (Democrat) Party and increased its vote by 3%. Furthermore, it can be seen that the smaller parties of the 2007 election have been completely wiped out in 2011. The CHP (Republican Peoples’ Party) also increased its share from the votes of these smaller parties. Neither the CHP, nor the AKP have been able to appropriate votes from each other. Only the Democratic Nation bloc has taken a substantial amount of votes from the AKP. It has also taken a small amount of votes from the CHP and other smaller leftist parties.
This, beyond any doubt, shows that only the Labour, Freedom and Democracy Bloc can develop a possible alternative (to the AKP). This bloc has the potential to take votes from the AKP and CHP and has created excitement and hope amongst the democratic forces in Turkey. Moreover, the bloc has achieved the highest increase in its percentage of MPs. The increase was 75%. Apart from the unexpected loss in Dersim, the bloc has achieved a remarkable success. Admittedly there was also hope in Gaziantep, Adiyaman and Izmir; however, despite not winning in these areas the election has surely been a success for the bloc. There was a major difference in votes, between the bloc and the AKP, in the cities where the bloc was the outright winner and only a small margin of difference in a few cities where the AKP won.
The most fundamental problem in Turkey is the Kurdish issue and the AKP received the support of all the powers in the country by claiming, “I am most capable of manipulating the Kurds, I can eliminate the Kurdistan Freedom Movement in the best possible way.” This election has proven that the AKP does not have the ability to deceive the Kurdish people any longer. The AKP has been defeated in the place where the political struggle is most intense; Kurdistan. Despite the arrest of hundreds of politicians and political cadres, the candidates supported by the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) have achieved a momentous victory.
Doubtless if the 10% election threshold did not exit then the number of MPs would be double the amount they are now. To enter the elections with independent candidates and organize the votes in a balanced manner is very difficult. However, despite all the suppression and interference the Kurdish people have achieved a historic victory. It is well known that there was cheating and duplicity in many places. If this wasn’t the case the Bloc would have won at least 10% of the vote. It is evident that the votes of the Bloc have been interfered with using different methods in many places, such as Dersim.
It is clear that the state resorted to many illegal methods to prevent the election of the independent candidate in Dersim. The emphasis Prime Minister Erdoğan made in his ‘balcony speech’ on the Zaza’s (also Kurds), to create a division between Kurds, is evidence of the state’s approach in places like Dersim and Bingöl and the special war implemented there.
The most important political result of this election has been the Kurdish peoples’ determination to solve the Kurdish issue based on democratic autonomy. The people are overwhelmingly calling for democratic autonomy. If Amed (Diyarbakır) is the benchmark for the demands of the Kurdish people then a 65% majority want democratic autonomy. Even though they may want to, the AKP can no longer claim that the BDP do not represent the Kurdish people. The vast majority of people who are claiming their Kurdish identity voted for the Bloc. The AKP’s use of all the state’s resources to win in certain areas does not change this fact.
The Labour, Freedom and Democracy Bloc is the only group that represents all the social forces and rich cultural groups in Turkey. Women have a 30% representation. In the case of the BDP there is a 40% representation (of women). Apart from the BDP, Socialists have not been represented in Parliament in this fashion since the time of the TIP (Turkish Workers’ Party). The representation of an Assyrian Orthodox in Parliament is a first in Turkey. When all this is taken into account it is clear that the only group that represents all of Turkey is the Bloc. Therefore it is very possible to strengthen and develop into an alternative. This is why this Bloc should be seen as the future of Turkey.
State forces have not been able to stomach the AKP’s defeat in Kurdistan. Attacks against the public in Şırnak, Batman, Van, Amed and Urfa are evidence for this. The message given to the people is this, “Do not rejoice, we will not end the repression.” Rather than showing respect towards the peoples’ decision the state has replied it with brutality, similar to after the 2009 local elections.
The Prime Minister made general remarks in his ‘balcony speech’. The most striking aspect was that it was aimed at the Middle East and Turkey’s neighbouring countries. It can be comprehended from this that the AKP will become even more bound to the US’s policies in the region. An intervention into Syria may be on the agenda in the near future.
The Prime Minister did not mention the Kurdish issue in his speech. He repeated what he had been saying during the election and said that they had brought an end to denial, rejection and assimilation. This is proof that he thinks that there is no Kurdish issue any longer. Furthermore, it means insisting on a deadlock.
The fact that the Prime Minister said that they will consult other parties while creating a new constitution means nothing. Even if they had won 400 seats in Parliament he would still have said this. To expect anything different regarding a new constitution would have been surprising. His approach however is; “we will lead the way and if the others accept what we say then we can compromise on certain issues.” There was nothing in the speech that satisfies the demands of the Kurdish people. In this respect the ‘balcony speech’ has been nothing more than show and those that have said that this speech would be important have done nothing but assisted the AKP’s propaganda machine during the election.
The new constitution is needed fundamentally to solve the Kurdish issue. A constitution that does not bring radical changes and satisfy the needs and demands of the Kurdish people will not be a new or democratic constitution with any value.
The importance of this election and what was most anticipated was the approach of the Kurdish people; this has been clarified. The Kurdish people have approved Democratic Autonomy.