Turkish prosecutors may be aiming to take the head of the Kurdish party out of the race ahead of upcoming elections. The Financial Times reports:
DHA, Turkey’s main secular news agency, reported late on Wednesday that the state prosecutor in Diyarbakir, the regional capital of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish populated south-east, had opened an investigation into Mr Demirtas on charges ranging from humiliating the Turkish people to insulting the president and producing propaganda for a terrorist organisation.The prosecutor has applied to the Turkish justice ministry for Mr Demirtas’s parliamentary immunity to be lifted, the report said.
Why oh why might the powers-that-be have an interest in seeing this happen? Oh, there it is:
Following the failure of talks to form a coalition government Mr Erdogan announced last month that Turkey would go to the polls again on November 1, a move intended to allow the AKP to win back its majority.The action against Mr Demirtas raises the prospect of other senior HDP figures facing prosecution in an attempt to reduce the party’s appeal ahead of the November polls — or even of the closure of the HDP.
As we warned in August, the period before the new elections gives ample room for President Erdogan to attempt to reduce the opposition through other means. That seems to be one of the reasons the AKP opted to hold them, instead of entering a coalition. And it’s noteworthy that this news came on the back of riots and arson attacks on the HDP. There’s still about a month and a half left until the new polls, and it will be interesting—although likely unpleasant—to see how hard Erdogan will lean on the levers of both state and extrajudicial power in that interval.