Funny as it may sound, some experts claim that the June 7 parliamentary elections in Turkey have ended in the victory of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). They mean that Erdogan’s party has retained its majority in the parliament – 258 seats – but they omit the fact that it has lost several millions of voters and 53 seats and has missed the chance to form a one-party government.
Concerning Erdogan’s plans to revise the Constitution and to turn Turkey from a parliamentary into a presidential republic, he needs over 80 seats for being able to do it. So, we can say that what happened on June 7 was not even a Pyrrhic victory but a real defeat and, possible, the first day of the end of the AKP’s epoch.
The true winner is the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), led by Selahattin Demirtaş. That force polled 13% of the votes and will not have 80 seats in the Turkish parliament. It was a truly historic victory. Until now the “Kurdish factor” in Turkey – a country where each fifth of 85,000,000 citizens is a Kurd – has been associated with the marginal militarized Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who fights for the rights of Kurds by means of force and is regarded as a “terrorist group” in Turkey and some other states. Its leader Abdullah Ocalan has been in jail for 15 years already.
Now the PKK has been replaced by a less radical and much more popular force. The HDP has a well-organized structure consisting of experienced administrators (mayors, businessmen), and the most important thing about it is that it is a legal political force. So, it can have a big influence on Turkey’s internal and external lives.
The HDP does not act as an ethnic force only. On the contrary, according to the Istanbul-based Armenian newspaper, Agos, said right after the elections Demirtas that his party had turned into a nationwide force and belonged not only to Kurds, but also to Armenians, Yazidis, Circassians and all other ethnic and religious groups, all people wishing to live feely in their own land. The victory of the HDP was the victory of workers, farmers, artisans and those having no jobs.
So, naturally in the parliament that force will focus on social-economic problems and will seek social justice. Here they may hope for the support of the strong left-of-center Nationalist Democracy Party (MDP) with its 133 seats. This is a lossless game, especially now that the economic crisis has shattered the ruling party.
The HDP will have no smaller influence on Turkey’s foreign policy. In recent years, that force has actively criticized the ruling regime for having failed to carry out its zero problems with neighbors policy and for having led the country to a zero neighbors without problems situation. The HDP is very critical of Turkey’s policy on Syria. They say that by their attempts to topple Bashar al Assad and by their support for religious extremists, the Turkish authorities have turned Syrian Kurds and other local ethnic minorities into a target for the ISIL. So, the ruling party may be forced to make concessions here.
Some Armenian experts believe that the HDP will support not only Kurds but also Turkish Armenians. They even expect that force to insist on the restart of the Armenian-Turkish rapprochement process. According to Armenian Turkologist Gevork Petrosyan, the HDK is the only Turkish force that wants this process to continue. Besides, they keep urging the Turkish authorities to recognize the Armenian Genocide of 1915, to repent and to allow the descendants of deported Armenians to go back to the land of their ancestors. The HDP is against linking Armenian-Turkish relations with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
If we add to this the HDP’s plans to establish contacts with the leaders of Iraqi Kurdistan, we will see that the Kurdish factor will soon play quite a big role not only in Turkey but in the whole Middle East. This process may well end in political unification of the Kurdish nation.
Of course, a small article cannot give all possible scenarios but one thing is clear the Turkish authorities will be reset and any new government will have no other way but to consider the position of the pro-Kurdish HDP. This means that Turkey is entering an absolutely new stage of its development.
Guy Borisov, EADaily political analyst for the South Caucasus