Turkey's Kurdish party reveals election manifesto

Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, co-leaders of the HDP party, unveil pledges on the economy and constitution

21.04.2015 - Update : 21.04.2015
Turkey's Kurdish party reveals election manifesto


The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, or HDP, has unveiled its campaign manifesto on Tuesday ahead of Turkey’s June general elections.

The party’s program was presented in Istanbul by Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, co-leaders of the HDP.

Both leaders detailed the HDP’s “We to Parliament” document, aiming to target groups that the party claims are not represented or underrepresented in Turkey.

“We have to make a new start by putting people at the heart of the system. This is what the party owes to the people,” Demirtas told participants during the unveiling of the manifesto.

The HDP’s policy push comes after national manifestos launched by the ruling Justice and Development Party and the opposition People’s Republican Party. The general elections will take place on 7 June.

Demirtas urged people to look at the manifesto as a whole, saying that: “We can re-build Turkey by a radical change."

Yuksekdag said they want “a new life”, adding that the HDP would unite and stand the country up.

The program includes 12 sections, with specific pledges to particular groups including women, young people and workers.

The HDP promises to establish a “Women’s Ministry” to solve women’s problems in the country. Likewise, it pledges to abolish the existing Youth and Sports Minister position. Instead, it aims to establish a “Youth Ministry” to address young people’s needs.

The party says it will also distribute a credit card with 200 Turkish liras ($74) for those aged between 15 and 25.

On gay rights, the party pledged to fight against homophobia and take steps to recognize gay people’s preferences and equal citizenship in the constitution.

On democratic pledges, the pro-Kurdish party said it would write a new constitution to represent “multiple identities, cultures, beliefs, languages.”

On the economic side, the party said it would increase the monthly minimum wage to 1,800 Turkish liras ($650), adding that it would lower minimum weekly working hours to 35. It added that the HDP would abolish subcontracting to end labor being “rented” to companies. 

Levent Gultekin, a Kurdish political commentator, described the manifesto as proof of the HDP’s recently declared vision to address Turkish people rather than being just a Kurdish party.

“When we look at the manifesto, we can see that HDP is a Turkey party,” Gultekin told The Anadolu Agency following today's press conference.

Similarly, Ozer Sencar, chairman of the Metropoll survey company, said: “The manifesto shows that the HDP is trying to be Turkey’s party. If that happens, Turkey will have a peaceful environment sooner,” he claimed.

Election threshold

The HDP manifesto reiterated that the party is against the executive presidential system proposed by the ruling AK Party and promised that they would abolish the country’s 10 percent election threshold.

Under the current constitution, political parties need to win 10 percent of the vote nationally to enter parliament. The HPD is taking part in the general elections for the first time under its own banner.

Current HDP lawmakers ran as independents in the 2011 general elections, receiving about 6.57 percent of the vote, which corresponds to about three million votes.

Opinion polls indicate that the Kurdish party is on the edge of having the necessary 10 percent to enter the Turkish parliament.

Addressing press members’ questions on election threshold, Demirtas said the party has the momentum to pass over the 10 percent mark. “But it is too early to say that we are above the threshold,” he added.

Gultekin said those pledges would not influence the party’s performance in the country. “Rather, its discourse will have an effect on voting rate,” he claimed.

But Sencar believed that those promises which have "powerful messages for low-income groups, youths and women" overall would have an effect on the party’s vote: “Those pledges show the HDP’s belief that it is going to be above the election threshold.”

Approximately 56 million Turkish citizens will vote on June 7 in the country's 25th general elections to elect 550 lawmakers to the Turkish Parliament. Turkey had held general elections every five years until a 2007 constitutional change, which set elections for every four years.

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