A Turkish parliament without the main pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) would be a shame for the country, Cumhuriyet newspaper quoted party co-chair Pervin Buldan as saying.
Turkey will hold both presidential and parliamentarian elections on June 24 with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan looking to assume sweeping new executive powers that will come into forces after the polls.
HDP former leader Selahattin Demirtaş is one the challengers in the presidential race, but is fighting his campaign from a cell in a top security prison where he being held while being tried on terrorism charges. Opposition parties failed to agree on a joint candidate to face Erdoğan, but if the president fails to win an absolute majority on June 24, they could unite behind a single candidate in run-off polls two weeks later.
“In the first round, we will come together around Selahattin Demirtaş. He is a politician loved in Turkey. He is a politician who raises trust and hope in society. We do not talk about the second round at the moment, we do not discuss it,” said Buldan.
“Everybody is making some calculations, but they know this very well: There will be no solution without the Kurds and the HDP. We are the key party in this election. Of course we will need to make a choice between the two candidates who will compete in the second round, but we do not discuss this right now.”
With 11 of its members of parliament and thousands of its activists jailed in a wide-ranging government crackdown on dissent, the HDP will find it hard to match its performance in 2015 parliamentary elections when it became the first pro-Kurdish party to gain the necessary 10 percent of the national vote to take up seats in parliament.
“A parliament without HDP will be a huge shame for Turkey. The HDP is the only party that supports human rights, freedoms, and peace,” said Buldan. “We have never gone below 10 percent in polls. Even if we are above 10 percent, we will work as if we are not. We will protect both the votes and the ballot boxes. I believe that society in Turkey will solve the problem of the election threshold for the HDP.”
If the HDP fails to pass the 10-percent threshold, many of the seats in the mainly Kurdish southeast will likely go to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which traditionally comes second place in the region.
“No one should ignore the fact that 70 to 80 deputies will be won by the AKP, if HDP votes remain under 10 percent,” she said.
Buldan welcomed the visit by the main opposition presidential candidate Muharrem İnce to Demirtaş in prison.
“What Mr. İnce did was a great gesture. I think the rest of the candidates should do the same. Demirtaş should be free and manage his campaign,” she said.