Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP): Systemic oppression as the basis for Erdoğan's 'New Turkey'

Report by Peoples' Democratic Party Representation in Europe

July 1, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Recep Tayyip Erdogan's 'New Turkey' is defined by intimidation of the democratic opposition, prosecution of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), and extermination of any remnants of civil society. Overseas, it manifests itself as blackmailing the European Union, intervening in neighboring countries, and employing ruthless military aggression. Another aspect of `New Turkey ́ is that Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) has built a coalition with the ultra-nationalist right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to stay in power.

Lack of democracy in Turkey is by no means a new or recent issue. It has deep-rooted causes that date back to the foundation of the state. Yet, throughout the course of Turkish history, the struggle for a democratic Turkey has never stopped – and it is still going on. When the AKP came into power in 2002, Erdogan, as party chairman, declared to both the “nation” and the “international community” that the AKP would pursue a policy geered towards a stable and democratic Turkey.

According to this, the collective rights of unrepresented people and of women, and the elements of democratic society should have been ensured in a new Turkish constitution. And the ‘Policy of Zero Problems with our Neighbors’ should have been adopted in response to the rapid changes engulfing the world. In a nutshell, Erdogan convinced both the national and international community that Turkey’s deep-rooted problems, including the Kurdish question, would be resolved within the framework of democratisation.

In contrast to this rhetoric, the weak Turkish democracy regressed further: the rule of law and international conventions were permanently abused, and transparency and accountability were laid aside. Today, exercising any of the democratic rights ostensibly guaranteed by law is de-facto prohibited. Under his authoritarian regime, Erdoğan proclaims "the new Turkey”. But there are structural and political problems. He is dismantling the last remnants of democracy and trying to eliminate his opponents by any means in order to institutionalise his regime.

Within this framework, the HDP, the second largest opposition party, is subjected to constant prosecutions, and its members, deputies and co-mayors are unlawfully arrested and dismissed, despite acting in compliance with the law. At the same time, “New Turkey’s” foreign policy, which is described as ‘pre-emptive rather than being reactive’, consists of training and equipping the extremist armed groups – including Islamic State (Daesh) – that fueled wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Nagorno-Karabakh. In today’s “New Turkey”, social justice, peace, and the democratic development of the Republic are no longer in effect. The deteriorating situation also jeopardises hopes for peace and prosperity in the wider Middle East.

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