The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Progress Party (AKP) has re-won a majority in the Turkish parliament. Its election campaign included renewed war on the Kurdish people and violent attacks across the country on the headquarters of the leftist People’s Democratic Party (HDP), along with arrests and intimidation of many journalists and hundreds of political activists.
The government and army reopened the war against the Workers Party of Kurdistan (PKK), a political and guerrilla movement based in the Kurdish population that had a truce and was negotiating with the government party to end the 21-year conflict.
During the election campaign, the regime raided 200 HDP headquarters around the country, using military and paramilitary forces, and also arrested 500 members of the leftist party. Adding to the atmosphere of intimidation, two attacks on mass gatherings of HDP sympathizers, apparently by suicide bombers, killed up to 150 people and injured many more. Under those threats, the HDP called off any mass gatherings for the last month of the election campaign.
Despite the difficult conditions, the HDP still managed to win more than 10.7 percent of the votes, giving the party 60 seats. The HDP, a coalition of leftist and Kurdish-based organizations, won handily in many Kurdish-majority districts in the southeast. In June it won 13.2 percent of the vote and 79 seats.
With 49 percent of the vote, up from 41 percent in June, the AKP won 313 of 550 seats. This gives the AKP a majority, but not the two-thirds Erdogan needed to change the Turkish Constitution and increase his power as president.
The secular, centrist Republican People’s Party came in second, with about the same vote and seats as in June. It was significant that the vote for the pro-fascist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) fell from 16 to 12 percent, reducing its seats from 80 to 42 — fewer than the HDP. The shift in the right-wing vote indicates that reactionary nationalists who usually vote MHP found the AKP to be sufficiently anti-Kurd to give Erdogan their vote.
HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas told the media after the vote: “We had no election campaign. We tried only to protect our people from massacres.” Still, given the difficulties, he called the result “a great victory.” (Junge Welt, Nov. 3)
Hypocrisy of imperialists
Despite the massacres, the arrests of journalists and the attacks on party offices, the German, European Union and U.S. governments congratulated Erdogan and called it a fair and clean election. These are the same imperialist bodies that rant against Venezuela’s Bolivarian government for jailing one or two opposition leaders — who themselves organize violent anti-government actions.
The U.S. and EU imperialists want Erdogan and the Turkish state as a partner in the war against the Syrian government and in general to control Western Asia. That’s why they praised this rotten election.
Like so many repressive regimes, the AKP won votes posturing as a force for peace and stability. In reality, Turkey is entering the war in Syria, especially against Kurdish forces, and the state is violently targeting the left and minorities at home. Workers and oppressed minorities inside Turkey will need international solidarity in addition to taking self-defense measures.