The Peoples' Democratic Party (HPD), because of its pro-Kurdish stance, is being persecuted by the Turkish authorities, who continually accuse it of having links with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has led to the arrest of several mayors and parliamentarians from the party. The pressure has reached the point that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), on which his parliamentary majority depends, has called for the party to be banned.
The chief prosecutor of Turkey's Supreme Court of Appeals, Bekir Şahin, has filed a lawsuit to dissolve the third most represented political party in parliament and the country's main pro-Kurdish formation, the Peoples' Democratic Party, accused of terrorist activities.
In the document submitted to the Constitutional Court, the prosecutor accuses HDP members of instigating "activities aimed at destroying and abolishing the indivisible unity of the state with its country and nation". The chief prosecutor added in the lawsuit that the HDP is an "anti-democratic party" and is "in collusion with the PKK terrorist group".
The lawsuit has been accepted by the Supreme Court -the institution that will eventually hear the case- after a trial date has been set. If the Turkish judiciary upholds the charge, the HDP would be dissolved for violating Article 68 of the Constitution, Şahin said. In Turkey, it is the Constitutional Court that is responsible for ruling on the closure of political formations. However, the Constitutional Court has the power to choose other types of sentences depending on the seriousness of the facts, such as blocking state funding. The Court had already rejected the same case at the end of May due to formal defects, but the Prosecutor's Office presented a new brief on 7 June, which has now been accepted.
The decision requires a minimum two-thirds majority of the 15 judges. Eventually, the judges could opt for less severe sanctions than the closure of the formation, such as, for example, a total or partial ban on public funding.
After the 2019 elections, Turkey's electoral authority prevented six Turkish HDP mayors from taking office and eight were dismissed, replacing them with losing candidates from President Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP). Some of them have been imprisoned, such as in Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van, the three largest Kurdish-populated cities in the southeast of the country, in order to appoint Interior Ministry officials to replace them
This PKK group is considered a terrorist force by Turkey itself, the United States and the European Union (EU), and the relationship with the HDP has been used by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's administration to carry out a purge against significant elements of this left-leaning, pro-Kurdish political formation.
The pro-Kurdish left-wing formation is the third largest party in the Turkish Parliament with 12 percent of the statewide vote in the last elections, which highlights the importance of vetoing the exercise of their functions, no less, than the mayors of a political party of some relevance and weight even at the national level.
The HDP retains 55 seats in parliament, while Erdogan's Justice and Development Party has 289. The main opposition Republican People's Party retains 136 seats, the Nationalist Movement Party 48 and the Good Party 36.Since the past failed coup in 2016, thousands of HDP party members have been prosecuted and imprisoned on terrorism charges. Charges that, according to the international community, are of dubious credibility.
The state's rigid stance against the so-called common Kurdish enemy hardened in the wake of the March 2019 local elections, in which Erdogan received a major electoral setback, losing important national seats such as Istanbul (Turkey's financial heartland) and Ankara (the administrative capital) to the main Kurdish party, which went to the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), of which the current mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu, a major political rival of the leader of the presidentialist Justice and Development Party (AKP), is a member.
Following his defeat in the municipal elections, the Turkish president accelerated a campaign of persecution of political rivals in order to divert attention, rally popular support against a 'common enemy' and try to mitigate the political blow received with the loss of confidence of a large part of the public. This domestic manoeuvre serves Recep Tayyip Erdogan to divert attention from the serious problems he is facing, such as the loss of confidence and the national economic crisis the country is going through, aggravated by the sharp fall of the Turkish lira and the standstill in activity generated by the current health crisis caused by COVID-19. Thus, pro-government bodies are calling the attitude of the Kurds and groups such as the HDP a real subversion and coup against national institutions.
Erdogan is using all the tools at his disposal, regardless of the deterioration of the country's institutions, to consolidate his position as President of the country. The next elections are scheduled for 2023, but recent electoral defeats in Istanbul and Ankara have set off alarm bells in his party, the AKP, as they fear that, if the opposition is given time, it will be able to weave a unity ticket to stand up to Erdogan. This is why the pursuit of public figures has become a necessity, as it not only reduces the opposition's chances of gaining prominence but may also lead to inter-party tension and make a united rally more difficult.