The Main Left-wing Political Party’s contesting the 2007 Turkish General Election
It is a fact of the 2007 Turkish General Election that there are few left wing political party’s that have a viable hope of passing the 10% threshold which all parties must acquire to gain entrance to Parliament. The only party which is regarded by some to be on the left which is certain to pass the threshold is the CHP, which has entered into an electoral coalition with the Left Party. This CHP/DSP coalition looks likely to attract left-wing voters who, were there a viable alternative would not normally vote for CHP. There is little doubt the fact that there is no other serious left-wing alternative and that the CHP remains the only secular center-left challenger to the AK Party may well increase the votes it attains.
The Republican People’s Party [Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi or CHP]
The Republican People’s Party [CHP] was established in 1923 by the founder of the Turkish Republic General Mustafa Kemal [aka Ataturk] and his closest comrades. For decades the Party ruled Turkey without parliamentary opposition. It is only since the late 1980s that it has had to operated in a multi party democracy for any length of time, as whenever democracy has been restored on previous occasions the Military stepped in after a comparatively short period of time.
Thus until very recently it was the party of choice for the Turkish establishment. This history has had a corrupting effect on the party who came to believe it ruled by divine right due to the status of Ataturk within the Turkish Republic. It regards itself as being a social democratic party and indeed to the chagrin of a number of its affiliates,the CHP is affiliated to the Second Socialist International to which most of the world’s Social Democratic Parties belong, including the UK and Irish LP, the SDLP and the mighty German SPD.
With the rise of a new middle class within the Anatolian heartlands the CHP has seen its power base within the business elite chipped away by newly emerging parties of the center and right, especially Ozal’s ANAP and now the AK Party of Erdogan is become the party of choice for the newly enriched upwardly mobile members of the Anatolian middle classes.
However the CHP can still regard the military leadership and its NCO’s as its bedrock and jointly they have organized the mass demonstrations in favor of secularism that have recently taken place in Turkeys largest cities, after PM Erdogan attempted to slot his Deputy Abdullah Gül into the Presidency. Whether the CHP will maintain the support of the military when the sons of the newly enriched middle classes move through the ranks is another matter, although they probably will as few of the offspring of the new bourgeoisie choose a military career, preferring to follow their fathers into business or the professions.
The Democratic Left Party [Demokratik Sol Parti, DSP]
The Democratic Left Party was founded by former Prime Minister and one time leader of the CHP Bülent Ecevit and his wife Rahşan Ecevit in 1985. It continued as a minor party unable to pass the 10% barrier, until it won 76 parliamentary seats in the December 1995 general election.
In 1998, the 55th government of Turkey was toppled and Ecevit received the mandate to form a new government. He founded a minority government of the DSP until general elections were called. During this period the leader of the PKK Abdullah Ocalan was captured by military intelligence. Thus the DSP managed to win 22,19% of the votes in the general election of April 1999 and it’s leader Bülent Ecevit became for the fifth time the Prime Minister of Turkey. The party is currently led by Zeki Sezer whom Ecevit regarded as his heir; and its platform is not dissimilar to the CHP and would be recognized by right wing social democrats the world over.
Democratic Society Party [Demokratik Toplum Partisi – DTP]
The party was founded in 2005 out of political necessity after the Turkish Constitutional Court had banned its forerunners DEHAP and DEHEP for spurious reasons. The DTP was established by the veteran Kurdish politicians and former Parliamentary Deputies Leyla Zana, Orhan Doğan, Hatip Dicle and Selim Sadak upon their release from prison in 2004. Since its inception, the party and its leaders have faced legal problems as opponents of Kurdish autonomy are once again claiming the party has ties to the Kurdish separatist movement the PKK.
Whilst the DT party governs countless towns and villages in south Eastern Turkey, including large Cities like Diyarbakir, they have been unable to pass the 10% threshold since it was introduced to deny them access to the Grand Assembly. Thus in the 2007 election the DT party has decided to support a raft of independent Kurdish candidate through out the Kurdish region, who do not have to abide by the 10% rule, a number of whom may well be elected on the 22nd of July. If so this will mean that Kurds will be represented under their own banner in the new parliament for the first time in a decade and more.
The STP program calls for more autonomy for Kurds within the Turkish State and could be supported by European left reformist social democrats.
To conclude, there are other small left wing parties standing in the 2007 election, but due to time and space and the fact that none of them have a hope of gaining entrance to parliament due to the 10 % bar, I will have to return to them at a later date.*
* Additional information was gained from this site. http://eng.sandik.org/