Kurdish nationalists stand a reasonable chance of gaining more representation in Turkey’s parliament at this Sunday’s election — surveys indicate 30 members from the southwest. They are running for office as independents. This way, the ten percent of the vote minimum required for a party to enter parliament doesn’t apply. But they are supported by the BDP Peace and Democracy party. Here is their goal.
Kurdish independent candidate Serafettin Elci said: “A decentralisation system will be established, whether they like it or not. A system that will lead Kurds to irrevocable autonomy in the region, a self-governing system.”
The ruling AKP Justice and Development party is also canvassing for votes in Diyarbakir. Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan has promised more investments will be made in the majority Kurdish region. But Erdogan does not support the political reforms the BDP demands: autonomy, education in Kurdish and an amnesty for the PKK armed rebels.
Mehdi Eker, a Justice and Development Party candidate, said: “We want to write a new constitution to strengthen the foundation of the benefits that we have given so far, and to block the path of going back to the old ways. And we want there to be new benefits, new steps.”
Resolving the 27-year-old Kurdish conflict in which at least 45,000 people have been killed requires a constitutional approach, said Kurdish writer Bejan Matur: “It seems to me that including Kurdish ethnicity recognition with Turkish-ness in the constitution will prolong the conflict. The most reasonable thing to do is to completely change the definition of Turkishness. The Constitution needs to be free of an ethnic reference, because Turkey is a multicultural society, with several ethnicities living here together.”
Even the heirs of Kemalism, the republican CHP, today in the opposition, have been campaigning in Tunceli. Their new leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu has admitted that Kurds have been let down by this party, and promised to break with the past.