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The Gezi Park protests this past summer demonstrated the extent of popular dissatisfaction with the ruling Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) and its unilateral mode of governance. Paradoxically, the street protests also illustrated the lack of a viable political alternative to the AKP. Turkey’s leading opposition parties - the Republican People’s Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi, MHP) - have failed to present a credible alternative to the AKP, which has won overwhelming electoral victories in each of the last three general elections. The People’s Democracy Party (Halkların Demokratik Partisi, HDP), endorsed by none other than the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (Barış ve Demokrasi Partisi, BDP), has stepped forward and is now attempting to fill the void in the Turkish opposition. The BDP has decided to run under the HDP banner in western Turkey in the upcoming local elections as part of its strategy to extend its electoral base into areas that are not limited to the Kurdishdominated east and southeast. As Turkey readies itself for a busy election schedule with local and general elections on the horizon –in March 2014 and June 2015, respectively –the question that is repeatedly voiced is whether the HDP, with its leftist outlook and close association with the Kurdish political movement, can be a viable alternative to those disenchanted by both the AKP’s conservatism and Turkey’s main opposition parties.

 

Although the HDP held its first extraordinary congress in October 2013, its roots lie in the pre-2011 general elections period, which was marked by the BDP’s efforts to find a way of bypassing the ten percent electoral threshold. At that time, the BDP had formed the Labor, Democracy and Freedom Bloc (Emek, Demokrasi ve Özgürlük Bloğu) and eventually succeeded in sending 36 representatives to the Turkish Parliament as independents. Following the elections, the Bloc continued its activities as the People’s Democratic Congress (Halkların Demokrasi Kongresi, HDK; also known as Kongre Girişimi). The HDK was established at the behest of imprisoned Kurdish leader, Abdullah Öcalan, as part of his plans to transform the Kurdish political movement into a ‘party of Turkey’ in order to become a legitimate political actor by shedding its ethnic-based politics. As such, the HDK attempted to incorporate the Kurdish question into the general politics of Turkey and bring together a variety of political organizations under one banner. The HDK includes a variety of minority groups, including Alevis, Armenians, Circassians, Laz, Arabs and Assyrians, as well as feminists, socialists, far-leftist parties, environmental movements, communities for the disabled, and lesbian and gay communities (LTGB). From the very beginning, the HDK has acted as a platform for the political unification of these underrepresented groups and eventually founded the People’s Democracy Party (HDP).

 

The HDP’s diverse membership is a clear indication of the plurality that the party claims to represent. If plurality is one central aspect of the party, the emphasis placed on the disadvantaged and oppressed groups, a reflection of its leftist orientation, is another. Four members of the BDP, who transferred their membership to the newly formed HDP, are known for their left-wing positions.  For instance, the HDP’s co-chair, Ertuğrul Kürkçü, was the president of the socialist Turkey’s Revolutionary Youth Federation (DEV-GENÇ) during the 1970s. Women also play a central role in the party administration in the same fashion as its sister party, BDP. This reflects Kurdish women’s high level of political activism. The HDP has adopted a co-chairmanship leadership system, which is shared by prominent Kurdish politician Sebahat Tuncel and Ertuğrul Kürkçü. The party has also allocated a ten percent quota for LTGB individuals.

 

Despite the HDP’s diverse appeal, there are a number of obstacles that may stand in the way of its ability to broaden its constituency and challenge the AKP in the coming election cycle. First, it will be difficult to get around the fact that the party is the brainchild of PKK leader Öcalan. His role in the party may be too unpalatable to Turkish liberal voters, whom the party aims to reach. Second is the leftist/socialist tone of the HDP. Leftist parties in Turkey have long been virtually irrelevant in Turkish domestic politics. They have never fully recovered from the state of inertia that followed the Turkish Left’s peak during the 1960s and the 1970s. An overemphasis on its leftist underpinnings may prove detrimental to the HDP, as the Turkish public traditionally tends to vote for center-right parties.

 

Although the HDP aims to unite the Kurdish and Turkish left, the historical resentment of these groups towards one another may also reduce the prospects of the HDP’s future success. Nevertheless, it may be worth remembering that the Kurdish nationalist movement had emerged out of Turkish leftist organizations during the 1960s. Modeled after the world youth movements during that period, these organizations became an important venue for Kurdish political participation. The Turkish Workers Party (Türkiye İşçi Partisi), founded in 1961, whose Marxist message of equality resonated well with the Kurds, quickly became their first choice. The party’s inactiveness on the Kurdish issue, however, soon led the Kurds to form their own parties and organizations. The first was the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Turkey (Türkiye Kürdistan Demokrat Partisi, TKDP), which was founded in 1965. The Turkish Left distanced itself from the Kurdish nationalist movement, often remaining ambivalent towards the Kurdish issue. Therefore, there may be those on both sides who are unwilling to be lumped together in the same group. Lastly, it should also be noted that despite having been generally well received by the Kurds, the HDP has caused some divisions within the BDP. For the conservative and Islamist elements within the party, the HDP represents too strong of an integration with the “marginal” Left, and therefore runs the risk of alienating itself from its Kurdish constituency.

 

Notwithstanding its shortcomings, the HDP may still be able to produce electoral gains, for two reasons. The first is the Gezi Park factor. Although the protests have lost steam and the protestors have thus far failed to become a credible political force that challenge the AKP government, the source of popular dissatisfaction which generated the protests in the first place, and the concomitant need for a competitive opposition party remains an issue. Sırrı Süreyya Önder, who became a highly popular figure during the Gezi Park protests in a manner that transcended ideological affiliation, has been discussed as its potential leader, and is now part of the HDP. His name is mentioned as the HDP’s candidate for the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, a point especially worrisome for the main opposition party, the CHP. The latter hopes to snatch the Istanbul municipality from the incumbent AKP with its strong candidate for the position, Mustafa Sarıgül, who enjoys significant popularity in the city. It is feared in opposition circles that two potent opposition candidacies will ultimately play into the hands of the AKP by splitting the vote and thus guaranteeing another AKP victory in Istanbul. A second factor that may draw voters to the HDP is its discourse that articulates the demands for individual and collective rights, rather than simply relying on the force of nationalist sentiments, as in the case of the MHP, or feeding off of secularist fears, as in the case of the CHP.

 

The HDP’s first test is just a few months away, and its success will ultimately depend on its ability to convince a wide range of ideologically split Turkish and Kurdish voters that its message and policies offer a real alternative to the AKP. Despite the hurdles it faces, the HDP has already injected some new life into the heretofore feeble Turkish opposition.

 

Duygu Atlas is a junior researcher and the program coordinator of the Süleyman Demirel Program for Contemporary Turkish Studies at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies.

 

The Moshe Dayan Center publishes TEL AVIV NOTES, an analytical update on current affairs in the Middle East, on approximately the 10th and 26th of every month, as well as occasional Special Editions.

To republish an article in its entirety or as a derivative work, you must attribute it to the author and the Moshe Dayan Center at TelAviv University, and include a reference and hyperlink to the original article on the Moshe Dayan Center's website,http://www.dayan.org.

10th and 26th of every month, as well as occasional Special Editions.

To republish an article in its entirety or as a derivative work, you must attribute it to the author and the Moshe Dayan Center at TelAviv University, and include a reference and hyperlink to the original article on the Moshe Dayan Center's website,http://www.dayan.org.

Previous editions of TELAVIV

 

NOTES can be accessed at http://www.dayan.org/tel-aviv-notes.

 

 

 

 

Live broadcast: JNF Toronto Negev Dinner - paying tribute to Canadian Prime Minister the Right Honorable Stephen Harper. Proceeds will build a special project: The Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor and Education Center.

Save the Date!

LIVE

JNF Toronto Negev Dinner with Canadian PM the Hon. Stephen Harper!

 

Stay tuned for live broadcast right here:

Canada/USA: December 1, 2013 - 4:30 PM
Israel: December 1, 2013 - 11:30 PM

A Tribute to Canadian PM and World Leader the Right Honorable Stephen Harper


Photo: Courtesy JNF Toronto

Stephen Harper was sworn in as Canada's 22nd Prime Minister on February 6, 2006. Among his many accomplishments, Prime Minister Harper steered Canada through the worst recession in 50 years by supporting job creation and long-term prosperity for all Canadians through pro-growth initiatives. He rebuilt Canada’s military, has staunchly defended victims of crime and restored Canada’s strong voice on the world stage. 

Under the direction of Prime Minister Harper, Canada is now a leader in the international fight against anti-semitism and raising awareness of the heinous crimes of the Holocaust. At the UN, Canada stands tall as a nation of principle by defending the freedom and dignity of all people. 

JNF Toronto is honoured to have this extraordinary world leader as our 2013 honouree.  
For more information, 
including evening program and donation opportunities, visit

Special Project: The Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor and Education Center

Proceeds from the 2013 Negev Campaign will support the building of the Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor and Education Centre.

Images of the exterior and interior for the planned center. Images: Courtesy of JNF Toronto


KKL-JNF's Hula Lake Nature and Bird Park is located along a major global migration route. Every year during spring and fall, close to 500 million birds rest in Hula Valley on their way to warmer climates in Africa. 


Cranes at Hula Lake Park. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Developed by KKL-JNF as part of the Hula Valley Rehabilitation Plan, the park has become a local and global attraction for hundreds of thousands of visitors each year from Israel and abroad and serves as a model for cooperation between conservationists, tourists and farmers. 

Through your support, KKL-JNF is establishing a 4,000 square meter state-of-the-art visitor center at this unique site. JNF Toronto will help transform a vision into a reality. 

The Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor & Education Centre will benefit the environment and become a major source of income for the residents of the area. With your help, the planned visitor and education centre will undoubtedly become the pinnacle of KKL-JNF’s major project, restoring the Hula wetlands to their former glory.

Invitation to a special presentation of the

3rd OECD Economic Survey of Israel

Monday, December 9th, 2013, 15:00 – 17:15

 

Yad Hanadiv Offices, 4 Washington St. (4th floor), Jerusalem

The presentation will be conducted in English

 

Moderator: Liora Bowers, Taub Center Policy Director

 

15:00   Gathering and Light Refreshments

 

15:30   Introduction

 

Ayal Kimhi, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Taub Center Deputy Director

 

15:45   Presentation of 3rd OECD Economic Survey of Israel

 

Peter Jarrett and Philip Hemmings, OECD

 

16:15   Discussants

 

Avi Simhon, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Former Chairman of the Advisory Forum to the Ministry of Finance

 

Shlomo Yitzhaki, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Former Director of the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics

 

Dov Chernichovsky, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Chair of Taub Center's Health Policy Program

 

16:45   Questions and Answers

 

 

Space is limited and advance registration is required

 

To register call 02-567-1818

 

 

 

JNF Victoria and JNF New South Wales hold successful Gala and donor dinners, raising funds for KKL-JNF ecological water and community development projects in the Negev and Arava regions.
 
JNF Victoria Gala Dinner, Monday, 28th October

JNF Victoria held an outstandingly successful Annual Gala dinner, with about 800 people attending this festive event.
Guest speakers for the night included Israeli Minister for Science, Technology and Space Mr. Yaakov Peri and Brigadier General (ret) Avigdor Kahalani
The funds raised from this event will go directly to the KKL-JNF Sha’ar HaNegev Water Reclamation Project.
 
JNF Victoria Farewell Dinner for Michael and Atida Naphtali

A farewell dinner for Michael and Atida Naphtali was held at the home of Lionel Krongold.
The dinner was attended by Israel's Ambassador to Australia Shmuel Ben-Shmuel.
The proceeds of the dinner will go towards the upgrade of the KKL-JNF Arava Children's Environmental Center.
JNF NSW Gala Dinner, Wednesday, 30th October

The JNF NSW Annual Gala Dinner held on Wednesday 30, October was an overwhelming success.
Almost 800 people attended the event, which was sold out, to hear the keynote speaker, Israeli Minister Yaakov Peri and the special guest speaker, war hero Avigdor Kahalani.
The night began with a tribute to Dr. Harry Triguboff AO on the occasion of his 80th birthday, to thank him for his support to KKL-JNF for the past 22 years.
Notable distinguished attendees included the Governor General of NSW, Professor Marie BashirMP Malcolm Turnbull and Israel Ambassador Designate.

A message of support from Prime Minister Tony Abbott was read out by NSW PresidentAlex Abulafia.

This month, we commemorate 40 years since the Yom Kippur war, and the audience was moved to hear from the hero of the time Avigdor Kahalani. He poignantly reminded the Sydney Jewish Community about how far Israel has come since that time, and the importance of supporting Israel through the tangible KKL-JNF projects which help develop Israel, and in particular the Negev.

Proceeds from the evening go directly to the KKL-JNF Sha’ar HaNegev Water Reclamation Project.

JNF NSW thanks all the guests who attended and supported JNF.

 
JNF NSW Major Donors Dinners

JNF NSW major donor dinners were held at the homes of JNF National President Peter Smaller and Elaine Smaller and JNF Patron Dr. Harry Triguboff AO and Rhonda Triguboff.
The guests were privileged to hear candid words from Israeli Minister for Science, Technology and Space Mr. Yaakov Peri and Brigadier General (ret) Avigdor Kahalani. 

All monies raised at these dinners will go directly to the KKL-JNF Naveh Academy Environmental Garden.
 
 
 
 


Following is an excerpt from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks, today (Tuesday, 19 November 2013), at a conference on Israeli-French innovation:



"What we are seeing is the future. I think where radical Islam is trying to take us is the past. We are for modernity. They are for a dark medievalism. We're for opening up our societies for everyone – men, women, minorities, the right to be different. They're for uniform suppression of a rigid doctrine and they want to back it up with weapons of death.



They shouldn't be allowed to do that. I think it would be a grave mistake to repeat the mistake that was done vis-à-vis North Korea, another closed society, doctrinaire, rigid and aggressive. I think in the case of Iran, there is an opportunity. It would be a great mistake to capitulate before Iran when they have all reasons right now to respond to the pressures that have been put on them. Rather than surrendering to their charm offensive, it's important that they surrender to the pressure that can be brought to them to have them abandon their nuclear program."

photo Kobi Gidon  LAÁM