HDP – Breaking the World’s Highest Political Barrier: The Victory of Moving From Bullets to Ballots by the Kurds in Turkey

By Dr. M. Koohzad:

An estmated one million people at a HDP rally in istanbul on Saturday

Pre-election HDP rally in Istanbul

June 7th 2015 must be remembered as one of the most significant days in the annals of history and geography, and in cultural, political and economic relations of the Kurds within Turkey, within the Mideast, and the entire world. On this auspicious day, for the first time, a relatively new Kurdish political party, the Halkların Demokratik Partisi or People’s Democratic Party, known as HDP, delivered a major setback to the Islamist ruling party, the AKP. After hearing the news, for the first time in over a dozen years, President Erdogan disappeared, went silent, and shed a few drops of tears for losing the majority status in the Grand Turkish National Assembly. He was most upset because he could not become an absolute Sultan of the country. Those who previously voted for him and his party had become fed up with his lies, deceptions, and involvement in Jihadist terrorism.

Led by a dynamic human rights attorney, Selahattin Demirtash, HDP’s candidates included women, as well as gays and lesbians. The highest proportion of any party in Turkey and perhaps in the whole world, 31 out of 79 or nearly 40% of HDP’s legislators were women. The list also included Armenians, Yazidis and openly gay candidates that will serve in the Turkish Parliament. The candidates appealed to voters whose objective was to curb Mr. Erdogan’s powers and ambitions. In the aftermath of the election, as soon as the results became known, Demirtash declared “We, the oppressed people of Turkey who want justice, peace and freedom, have achieved a tremendous victory today.

Only four days before this historical election, a concerned Kurdish scholar, Professor Dr. Amir Sharifi (June 3, 2015) concluded “The larger question is the political outcome of moving from the bullet to the ballot to meaningfully engage in a genuine peace process.” He added, with beating the threshold level “Kurds in Turkey hope to bring about any genuine political change and reform and reverse the emergence of a religious autocracy”.

After the 1980 atrocious American-sponsored coup, the army set the electoral threshold at 10%, the highest in the world, of votes to make it into the Turkish Grand National Assembly. With six million votes, the Kurds shattered the legacy of this military dictatorship by obtaining 13.1% of the votes and 79 seats in the Turkish Parliament. It took the Kurds in Turkey 35 years of smart political maneuvering to surpass that threshold and move towards diplomatically engaging peace talks with Ankara. The end result of such an achievement for the Kurds should translate into respect of basic human rights, full autonomy, and independence.

The ruling party’s national and foreign policy collectively can be considered as major factors influencing its poor performance in the election on June 7, 2015. Like many countries around the world, understandably, Turkey’s foreign policies are an extension of its national Islamist agenda. Under Erdogan’s leadership, poverty, inequality, war on trade unions, and aggression against the ethnic minorities, mainly the Kurds, have been on the rise. Ultimately, he wanted to be an elected powerful neo-Ottoman sultan with potent executive power similar to those of the U. S. presidency. The majority of the Turkish constituents, nearly 60%, did not like Erdogan’ s advocating regime change in Syria and pampering ISIS. These smart voters opposed both Erdogan’s domestic and foreign policies.

Turkey’s foreign relations, particularly with its neighbors, the U.S. and the EU, have been devastating during the reign of the Islamist AKP. Coined by Ahmet Davutoglu, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs and now the MP, a simple nice slogan was that Ankara had “zero problems with neighbors.” Definitely, during the past four years, mainly after the Arab Spring of 2011, this catchphrase has since been modified to “zero neighbors without problems.” Ankara was a major partner in creating the Jihadist terrorists that overwhelmed South Kurdistan in Northern Iraq. On June 7th, 2015, some of the Kurds left behind in the city of Kobani danced long after midnight. They were happy for the victory of their Kurdish brothers in Turkey.

Understanding geographical patterns of being smart and crafty politicians, the HDP centered most of their campaign in Istanbul rather than in Diyarbakir in North Kurdistan, in Anatolia, occupied by Turkey. Diyarbakir is the largest city in population there. It has always been an important Kurdish center of political activities and resistance. The city is the most famous for its Newroz celebrations marking the arrival of spring and the new-year. But, Istanbul, a cosmopolitan metropolitan, is a totally different world.

Harem Karem (June 8, 2015) reported that HDP was able to form “a bridge between East and West Turkey.” Effectively, connecting the heartland of Kurdistan to the most significant historical cultural and political center in Turkey. He added that because of this smart move, “as an indicator of its reach into western Turkey, the party got one million votes and 11 seats in Istanbul.” This was a historical feat and the beginning of an epic political momentum!

Actually, Istanbul is the only large city in the world located on two continents of Asia and Europe. As an immigrant magnet, Istanbul today has a larger Kurdish population than any city in the Greater Kurdistan. Geographically speaking, Istanbul is very similar to New York City in the United States and Ankara resembles Washington. In this process Ankara has lost most of its appeal, it was left under the bridge that connects Istanbul in the west and Diyarbakir in the East. However, Ankara will be a major political battlefield for the new Kurdish elected MPs.

For such a job well done, for a remarkable, extraordinary democratic success, and for moving from bullets towards ballots, a belated congratulation is in order from all of the Kurds around the world. Of course, from this victory, other Kurdish political parties throughout the world must learn the important, valuable lesson that diplomacy can be one of the most effective ways towards peace and freedom.


Karem, Harem. “HDP Forms a Bridge Between East and West Turkey.” Kurdistan tribune.com, June 8, 2015. http://kurdistantribune.com/2015/hdp-forms-a-bridge-between-east-and-west-turkey/

Sharifi, Amir. “The Race Between HDP and AKP: Political Implications of June Elections in Turkey.” kurdistantribune.com, June 3, 2015. http://kurdistantribune.com/2015/the-race-between-peoples-hdp-and-akp-political-implications-of-june-elections-in-turkey/

Dr. M. Koohzad is a professor emeritus of Middle Eastern Studies and the author of a forthcoming book entitled: ‘Kurdistan: World’s Largest International Colony, Reflections on Its Real Political Economy’.


2 Responses to HDP – Breaking the World’s Highest Political Barrier: The Victory of Moving From Bullets to Ballots by the Kurds in Turkey
  1. Kuvan Bamarny (Abdul-Qahar Mustafa Bamarny)
    June 16, 2015 | 16:55

    Since the establishment of the republic of Turkey,the relations and cooperation of Turkey at secret intelligent levels with the western countries have been very active against Kurds.Here are few of secret crimes MIT of Turkey ,with the help and coordination of secret intelligent services of some western countries,committed against Kurds.

    In August 16,2009,the Kurdish singer Shivan Perwer were invited to Canada to perform a concert for Kurdish community in Canada on the occasion of August 16 ,the 69 year anniversary’s the establishment of Kurdish democratic Party of Iraq.The KDP committee in Toronto decided to organize the concert on a holiday ,Saturday 17th which was an off work day because most Kurdish …people had been at work on Friday 16th.

    Shivan Perwer performed his concert in Caledonia Park in Toronto.On the next day,Sunday 18th,2009 , he was illegally arrested ,humiliated ,disrespected and dragged on the round by police of Toronto.It was a set up organized by Canadian intelligent services and Turkish MIT in Canada.

    In 1991,the Canadian Security Intelligence Service calls Suleyman Govan ,a Kurd from Dersem,Turkey.CISS denied the permanent residency for Salesman Govan unless he co-operate with Canadian intelligent services and spy on Kurds. They tell him he is a terrorist unless he agrees to spy on other Kurds and take the responsibility of the death of Sayed Reza the Kurdish leader whom had been hanged by Turkish MIT.After a hell of misery ,pain and psychological torture for ten years , Suleyman Govens life is saved by church and he was proven innocent.

    In January 15 ,2013 right after the assassination of the three Kurdish PKK freedom fighters my picture ( Kuvan Bamarny) were morphed with the picture of ,the alleged killer of the three PKK women in France ,Omar Guney, and was published in Hurryat newspaper of Turkey. I was totally devastated and shocked to see that.

    In June 23,2013, while I was walking from a store to home (at around 12 o’clock at night) I was brutally attacked by a secret service agent in down town Kitchener at the corner of church and Frederick street. He attacked me with weapon, knocked me out, broke my head, my mouth and literally cut my lip into two pieces.The big criminal was never arrested or brought to the court of justice.If it was not for the help of church who saved my life, ,this secret services agent ,savage, criminal would have killed me there.

    Kuvan Bamarny/Duhok

  2. Karox
    June 16, 2015 | 18:21

    Southern Kurdistan is the epiecenter of intellectualism, political activism, modernism for all parts of Kurdistan. Hawler is the cradle of Kurdish millium-old civilization.
    Therefore, in order to be able to expand influence to all directions, special emphasis must be centered on Southern Kurdistan in terms of Freedom, Democracy, Human Rights.

    President Masood Barzani must care and not draw all into another ethno-seceterian war for personal gains.

    Time has come to say farewell!
    There are hundreds of patriot candidates with no past ties to any neighboring countries.

    Kurdistan comes 1st.

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