Grass root supporters

Even though Minister of the Interior Atalay said nothing concrete in his declaration on the Kurdish question last Wednesday, many newspapers think it’s a brave step by the government to aim for democratic solutions and to discuss the matter with as many different groups in society as possible. This includes talks with two important opposition parties, the CHP and the DTP. I am curious to find out what approach these two parties will choose. Or you could also say: which faction of their grass root supporters they will serve.

The CHP is the Republican People’s Party, originally established by Atatürk himself. They are supposed to be social democrats, but sort of lost their faith and turned more and more nationalist over the last couple of years. But some of their grass root supporters are still believers in social democracy, who would like to see the Kurdish problem solved in the democratic way the AKP proposes now. They have not been happy with the CHP’s policies and with CHP leader Baykal, but see no alternative to the CHP so keep on voting for the party. Is this the kind of supporters the CHP will choose to serve? Or will they kowtow again to the nationalist side, and decide to maybe not even talk to the AKP about the matter? Up until now, the CHP has reacted rather moderately to the AKP plans, so let’s hope in the end they choose the democratic approach.

Among the supporters of the DTP something similar is going on. They won the local elections (again) with rather large majorities last March, but a number of their voters support the party because they see no alternative, since there is no other party representing Kurds or defending their interest. The DTP is pretty much controlled by the PKK, and this annoys many DTP voters. They are against PKK violence and would like the DTP to follow a more independent road, including calling on the PKK to lay down their arms. So far it seems that the DTP doesn’t lean towards this faction of their supporters. They have said that PKK leader Öcalan should be at the negotiating table, and they are more likely to follow the road map to peace that Öcalan is expected to present in mid August than to support an AKP plan. By taking that position they are neglecting an important faction of their supporters who really want a democratic solution with an immediate end to the violence.

In the meantime, the AKP is also dragging its feet. They have been saying for months now that the time is right to solve the Kurdish issue once and for all. Then the big announcement comes, and it’s once again just talk. I mean, action speaks louder than words, but there is not even any word about concrete action. Expectations are rising, and they need to be met, before people get impatient and (again) lose hope.

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