Peoples' Democratic Party (Turkey)

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Peoples' Democratic Party

Halkların Demokratik Partisi
AbbreviationHDP [1]
Chairwoman Pervin Buldan
Chairman Sezai Temelli
Spokesperson Osman Baydemir [2]
Founded15 October 2012;6 years ago (2012-10-15) [3]
HeadquartersBüklüm Sokağı 117
06680 Çankaya, Ankara [4]
Membership (2017)34,250 [3]
Ideology Democratic socialism [5]
Left-wing populism [6]
Regionalism [7] [8] [9] [10]
Minority rights [7]
Political pluralism [11]
Direct democracy [12]

Political position Left-wing [13]
National affiliation Peoples' Democratic Congress
European affiliation Party of European Socialists (associate) [14]
International affiliation Progressive Alliance [15]
Socialist International (consultative) [16]
Colors     Purple      Green
SloganBu daha başlangıç
("This is Just the Beginning") [17]
Grand National Assembly
62 / 600
Metropolitan municipalities
2 / 30
District municipalities
97 / 1,351
Provincial councillors
129 / 1,251
Municipal Assemblies
1,441 / 20,498
Party flag
Flag of the Peoples' Democratic Party (Turkey).svg

The Peoples' Democratic Party (Turkish: Halkların Demokratik Partisi (HDP), Kurdish: Partiya Demokratîk a Gelan [18] ), or Democratic Party of the Peoples, is a pro-minority political party in Turkey. Generally left-wing, the party places a strong emphasis on participatory democracy, radical democracy, feminism, minority rights, youth rights and egalitarianism. It is an associate member of the Party of European Socialists (PES) and consultative member of the Socialist International.

Turkish language Turkic language mainly spoken and used in Turkey

Turkish, also referred to as Istanbul Turkish, and sometimes known as Turkey Turkish, is the most widely spoken of the Turkic languages, with around ten to fifteen million native speakers in Southeast Europe and sixty to sixty-five million native speakers in Western Asia. Outside Turkey, significant smaller groups of speakers exist in Germany, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Northern Cyprus, Greece, the Caucasus, and other parts of Europe and Central Asia. Cyprus has requested that the European Union add Turkish as an official language, even though Turkey is not a member state.

Minorities in Turkey

Minorities in Turkey form a substantial part of the country's population, with at least an estimated 30% of the populace belonging to an ethnic minority. While the Republic of Turkey, following the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, recognizes Armenians, Greeks and Jews as ethnic minorities, this legal status is not granted to Muslim minorities, such as the Kurds, which constitute the largest minority by a wide margin (13–19%), nor any of the other minorities in the country. The amount of ethnic minorities is suspected to be underestimated by the Turkish government. Ethnic Albanians, Pontic Greeks, Kurds, Arabs, Bosniaks, Circassians and Chechen people are usually considered Turkish under ethnic Turkish law.

Turkey Republic in Western Asia

Turkey, officially the Republic of Turkey, is a transcontinental country located mainly in Western Asia, with a smaller portion on the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. East Thrace, located in Europe, is separated from Anatolia by the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorous strait and the Dardanelles. Turkey is bordered by Greece and Bulgaria to its northwest; Georgia to its northeast; Armenia, the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan and Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the south. Istanbul is the largest city, but more central Ankara is the capital. Approximately 70 to 80 per cent of the country's citizens identify as Turkish. Kurds are the largest minority; the size of the Kurdish population is a subject of dispute with estimates placing the figure at anywhere from 12 to 25 per cent of the population.


Aspiring to fundamentally challenge the existing Turkish-Kurdish divide and other existing parameters in Turkish politics, the HDP was founded in 2012 as the political wing of the Peoples' Democratic Congress, a union of numerous left-wing movements that had previously fielded candidates as independents to bypass the 10% election threshold. It is in alliance with the Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP), often described as the HDP's fraternal party. While the HDP claims that it represents the whole of Turkey, critics have accused the party of mainly representing the interests of the Kurdish minority in south-eastern Turkey, where the party polls the highest.[ citation needed ] From 2013 to 2015, the HDP participated in peace negotiations with the Turkish government on behalf of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) separatist militant organisation, with which it is accused of having direct links.[ citation needed ]

Peoples Democratic Congress

The Peoples' Democratic Congress is a union of numerous left-wing political movements, organisations and parties in Turkey that aims to fundamentally recreate Turkish politics and represent oppressed, exploited individuals who face ethnic, religious or gender discrimination. The Congress is anti-capitalist and was formed on 15 October 2011. It organises numerous conferences and holds official congresses. In 2012, the Congress established a new party that would act as its political wing, the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). A similar union of left-wing groups, the United June Movement, was formed in 2014.

The electoral threshold is the minimum share of the primary vote which a candidate or political party requires to achieve before they become entitled to any representation in a legislature. This limit can operate in various ways. For example, in party-list proportional representation systems an election threshold requires that a party must receive a specified minimum percentage of votes, either nationally or in a particular electoral district, to obtain any seats in the legislature. In multi-member constituencies using preferential voting, besides the electoral threshold, to be awarded a seat, a candidate is also required to achieve a quota, either on the primary vote or after distribution of preferences, which depends on the number of members to be return from a constituency.

Democratic Regions Party

The Democratic Regions Party is a social democratic Kurdish political party in the Republic of Turkey. The pro-minority rights Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) acts as the fraternal party to DBP.

The party operates a co-presidential system of leadership, with one chairman and one chairwoman. These chairpersons were Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ respectively until Yüksekdağ's parliamentary membership was revoked on 21 February 2017. In the 2014 presidential election, the party put forward its chairman, Selahattin Demirtaş, who won 9.77% of the vote. Despite concerns that it could fall short of the 10% election threshold, the party put forward party-lists instead of running independent candidates the subsequent June 2015 general election. Exceeding expectations, it polled at 13.12%, becoming the third largest parliamentary group. The party briefly participated in the interim election government formed by AKP Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on 28 August 2015, with HDP MPs Ali Haydar Konca and Müslüm Doğan becoming the Minister of European Union Affairs and the Minister of Development respectively.

Selahattin Demirtaş Turkish Kurdish politician

Selahattin Demirtaş is a Turkish politician of Zaza Kurdish descent, member of the parliament of Turkey since 2007. He was co-leader of the left-wing pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), serving alongside Figen Yüksekdağ from 2014 to 2018. Since November 2016 he has been detained by the Turkish state. Demirtaş was the presidential candidate of the HDP in the 2014 presidential election, coming in third place with 9.77% of the vote. The HDP executive board also fielded Demirtaş as their candidate for the 2018 presidential election. Running from prison, he came in third with 8.40% of the vote.

Figen Yüksekdağ Turkish politician

Figen Yüksekdağ Şenoğlu is a Turkish politician and journalist, who was a former co-leader of the left-wing Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) of Turkey from 2014 to 2017, serving alongside Selahattin Demirtaş. She was a Member of Parliament for Van since the June 2015 general election until her parliamentary membership was revoked by the courts on 21 February 2017. Her party membership and therefore her co-leadership position were revoked by the courts on 9 March 2017 following a six-year prison sentence for allegedly distributing terrorist propaganda.

2014 Turkish presidential election Turkish presidential election in 2014

Presidential elections were held in Turkey on 10 August 2014 in order to elect the 12th President. Incumbent Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was elected outright with an absolute majority of the vote in the first round, making a scheduled run-off for 24 August unnecessary.

Witnessing the 2016 Turkish coup attempt and pointing out previous repression of democratic forces by martial powers, the HDP strongly opposed the coup. The HDP was first ignored and put aside of the post-coup national truce while the Turkish purges targeted alleged members of the Gülen movement. From September 2016 and forward, the Judiciary of Turkey started to submit HDP elected officials to anti-terrorism accusations. As of March 2018, the MP status of seven HDP representatives had been revoked and six more representatives, including the ex-chairman Demirtaş, remained under arrest, [19] disturbing widely the HDP's ability to communicate and be active on the political scene.

2016 Turkish <i>coup détat</i> attempt July 2016 attempted military junta coup in Turkey

On 15 July 2016, a coup d'état was attempted in Turkey against state institutions, including the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The attempt was carried out by a faction within the Turkish Armed Forces that organized themselves as the Peace at Home Council. They attempted to seize control of several key places in Ankara, Istanbul, and elsewhere, but failed to do so after forces loyal to the state defeated them. The Council cited an erosion of secularism, elimination of democratic rule, disregard for human rights, and Turkey's loss of credibility in the international arena as reasons for the coup. The government accused the coup leaders of being linked to the Gülen movement, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the Republic of Turkey and led by Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish businessman and cleric who lives in Pennsylvania. The Turkish government accuses Gülen of being behind the coup—a claim that Gülen denies—and accused the United States of harboring him. Gülen has suggested the coup was in fact a "self-coup" carried out by Erdoğan to consolidate his grip on power, a belief shared among some analysts and Turks. Events surrounding the coup attempt and the purges in its aftermath reflect a complex power struggle between Islamist elites in Turkey.

The Gülen movement is a self-described transnational social movement based on moral values and advocation of universal access to education, civil society, tolerance and peace, inspired by the religious teachings of Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish Islamic preacher who has lived in the United States since 1999. Owing to the outlawed status of the Gülen movement in Turkey, some observers refer to those the movement's volunteers who are Turkish Muslims as effectively of a sub-sect of Sunni Islam; these volunteers generally hold their religious tenets as generically Turkish Sunni Islam. The movement also includes participants from other nationalities and religious affiliations.


The HDP first participated in the 2014 local elections, where it ran in most provinces in western Turkey while the DBP ran in the Kurdish south-east. The two parties combined gained 6.2% of the total votes but HDP failed to win any municipalities. Selahattin Demirtaş was the party's candidate for the 2014 presidential election, where he won 9.77% of the vote with support mostly coming from south-eastern Turkey. The 21 MPs from the Peace and Democracy Party, the predecessor of the DBP, joined the HDP on 28 August 2014. [20] For the June 2015 general election, the HDP took the decision to field candidates as a party despite the danger of potentially falling below the 10% threshold. Even though most of the politicians from HDP are secular left-wing Kurds, the candidate list included devout Muslims, socialists, Alevis, Armenians, Syriac Christians, Azerbaijanis, Circassians, Lazi, Romanis and LGBT activists. Of the 550 candidates, 268 were women. [21] [22] [23] In 2015, Barış Sulu was the first openly gay parliamentary candidate in Turkey as a candidate of the HDP. [24]

2014 Turkish local elections

Local elections were held in Turkey on 30 March 2014, with some repeated on 1 June 2014. Metropolitan and district mayors as well as their municipal council members in cities, and muhtars and "elderly councils" in rural areas were elected. In light of the controversy around the elections, it was viewed as a referendum on the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. About 50 million people were eligible to vote.

June 2015 Turkish general election general election held on 7 June 2015

The Turkish general election of June 2015 took place on 7 June 2015 in all 85 electoral districts of Turkey to elect 550 members to the Grand National Assembly. This was the 24th general election in the history of the Turkish Republic, electing the country's 25th Parliament. The result was the first hung parliament since the 1999 general election. Unsuccessful attempts to form a coalition government resulted in a snap general election being called for November 2015.

Secularism, as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the "indifference to, or rejection or exclusion of, religion and religious considerations." In certain context, the word can refer to anticlericalism, atheism, desire to exclude religion from social activities or civic affairs, banishment of religious symbols from the public sphere, state neutrality toward religion, the separation of religion from state, or disestablishment.


Peoples' Democratic Congress

The Peoples' Democratic Party originates from the Peoples' Democratic Congress (Halkların Demokratik Kongresi, HDK), a platform composed of various groups including left wing parties Revolutionary Socialist Workers' Party, Labour Party, Socialist Party of the Oppressed, Socialist Democracy Party, Socialist Party of Refoundation, the Greens and the Left Party of the Future, the Peace and Democracy Party, some far-left factions, feminist groups, LGBT groups, trade unions and ethnic initiatives representing Alevis, Armenians, and Pomaks. [25] In the 2011 general election, the HDK fielded 61 independent candidates in order to bypass the 10% parliamentary threshold under the 'Labour, Democracy and Freedom Block'. 36 members were elected, though the election of Hatip Dicle was later annulled by the Supreme Electoral Council and this number subsequently fell to 35.

Revolutionary Socialist Workers Party (Turkey)

The Revolutionary Socialist Workers' Party is a Trotskyist party in Turkey. It was founded by Şevket Doğan Tarkan and his friends from Trotskyist journal Socialist Worker in 1997. The group had links to far-left Kurtuluş Hareketi before the 1980 Turkish coup d'état.

Labour Party (Turkey) political party in Turkey

Labour Party is a political party in Turkey. Its chairman is Selma Gürkan. The party was founded as Emek Partisi in 1996. Due to its ban by the Constitutional Court, it was refounded with the name Emeğin Partisi, the same year. In 2005, the name "Emek Partisi" was reinstalled after the European Court of Human Rights held the ban was a violation of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Socialist Party of the Oppressed

Socialist Party of the Oppressed is a Marxist-Leninist political party in the Republic of Turkey. It defines itself as "a militant revolutionary socialist party fighting for a workers'-labourers' federative republic in Turkey and Northern Kurdistan."

Fatma Gök, one of the HDP's founding chairpersons, described the HDK as a means of providing political hope to citizens and also as a way of intervening in the Turkish political system. The HDK operated by organising conferences and congresses, establishing the HDP as a means of fulfilling their political goals and establishing a means of having political influence.

Founding principles

The formal application of the HDK for political party status was delivered to the Ministry of the Interior on 15 October 2012. One of the party's chairpersons, Yavuz Önen, claimed that the party would be the political wing of the HDK and not a replacement for it. [26] [27]

The HDP was described by its founding chairpersons as a party that aims to eliminate the exploitation of labour and to fundamentally re-establish a democracy in which honourable and humanitarian individuals can live together as equal citizens. [26] It was further described as a party aiming to bring about fundamental change to the existing Capitalist system though uniting a wide range of left-wing opposition movements. Gök claimed that any political movement with similar aims to the HDK that had not merged with the party was more than welcome to do so. However, Önen claimed that the HDP would be entering elections as an individual party and not as part of a wider electoral alliance, adding that the party is itself formed of a wide coalition of political forces in the first place. [28]

Concerns were raised that the inclusion of the Kurdish nationalist HDK member Peace and Democracy Party in the HDP would raise allegations that the HDP was also a mainly Kurdish orientated party. However, Önen claimed that the HDP's key goal was to establish a different perspective of viewing the Turkish political scene and moving away from the existing 'Kurdish versus Turkish' dichotomy that had become institutionally entrenched within Turkish political perceptions. [29] Three outstanding parliamentarians of the Peace and Democracy Party, Sebahat Tuncel, Sırrı Süreyya Önder, and Ertuğrul Kürkçü abdicated in October 2013 to join the HDP. Levent Tüzel, former Labour Party chairman and independent member of parliament also joined the three to form a caucus. [30]

Split with the Labour Party

Labour Party founder Abdullah Levent Tuzel joined the HDP parliamentary caucus despite party's split with the HDP Levent tuzel.jpg
Labour Party founder Abdullah Levent Tüzel joined the HDP parliamentary caucus despite party's split with the HDP

The Labour Party (EMEP) had been a member of the Peoples' Democratic Congress and had participated in the establishment of the HDP in 2012. However, the EMEP released a statement on 17 June 2014, announcing a split with the HDP. [31] The split was attributed to the restructuring of the Kurdish nationalist Peace and Democracy Party into a local-only party under the new name Democratic Regions Party (DBP), while the BDP's parliamentary caucus would be integrated into the HDP. This would, in turn, require the HDP's constitution to be altered in order to ensure greater compliance and conformity with the ideology of the BDP. This caused the EMEP to formally announce their secession from the HDP, but stated that they would continue their participation with the HDK. Despite the split, the Labour Party endorsed the HDP presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş for the 2014 presidential election and also announced that they would not be running in the June 2015 general election. [32] [33]


The HDP is seen as the Turkish variant of the Greek SYRIZA and the Spanish Podemos parties, similar in their anti-capitalist stance. The founders of the HDP, Yavuz Önen and Fatma Gök, both emphasised the HDP's fundamental principle of rejecting capitalism and labour exploitation for the benefit of all Turkish citizens regardless of race, gender or religion. The party in this sense is therefore secular, though has refrained from endorsing the secularism enshrined in the principles of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.[ citation needed ] The HDP has also called for a new constitution that enshrines minority rights for Kurds, Alevis and other minorities. [34]

Kurdish peoples living in Turkey have long been a persecuted minority, or forcibly assimilated. [35] This has led them to support separatist, leftist, and Kurdish Nationalist parties. This began with the People's Labor Party and continued with the Freedom and Equality Party in June 1992, the Freedom and Democracy Party in October 1992, the Democracy Party in 1993, the People's Democracy Party in 1994, the Democratic People's Party in 1997, the Democratic Society Party in 2005, the Peace and Democracy Party in 2008 and finally the Democratic Regions Party in 2014. Most of these parties were closed down for violating the constitution by advocating the establishment of an independent Kurdistan on Turkish soil. While the HDP is also affiliated with the Peace and Democracy Party and the Democratic Regions Party, it aims to establish a new perspective that overcomes the traditional Turkish versus Kurdish divide. The HDP instead aims to collectively represent people of all ethnic or religious backgrounds and to safeguard their civil liberties by bringing about direct democracy and an end to capitalist exploitation. The party has long advocated the establishment of local 'people's parliaments' to increase democratic representation and decentralisation of power. Much of the party's attempts to unite citizens throughout Turkey is through the opposition to the governing conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP), which the HDP has accused of being authoritarian, exploitative and discriminatory against religious minorities. [36] The HDP's foreign policy also involves opening the border with Armenia, which has been closed since the 1990s due to Turkey's attempts to weaken Armenia economically in the Nagorno-Karabakh War.

Concerns have been raised whether the HDP respects or supports the unity of the Turkish Republic, especially due to allegations that HDP works with separatist rebel organisations such as the PKK. According to the HDP, however, these claims have been disproven several times. During a conference in Selahattin Demirtaş's presidential election campaign, the HDP had caused controversy by not displaying any Turkish flags. In response, Demirtaş had maintained that the HDP respected the flag, stating that the flag represented all citizens of Turkey. [37]

December 2016 attacks

On December 17, 2016, at around 21:30 (UTC+3) four masked people attacked the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) office in the Beylikdüzü district of Istanbul, which is located at a shopping mall. The attackers managed to overcome the security personnel and started a fire which caused the explosions of the two gas tubes inside the building. One police officer and a security guard sustained minor injuries. That same night, shots were fired by unidentified assailants at the HDP headquarters in Darıca, Kocaeli Province. [38] [39] [40] Attacks on other HDP offices across the country were also reported, including İzmir, Çanakkale, Hatay, Ankara, and Erzincan. [41]

Relations with the Kurdistan Workers' Party

The HDP maintained talks with Abdullah Öcalan, from this talks Öcalan give a message to the congress stating that "We have never considered our movement apart from Turkey's revolutionary and socialist movements. We have always regarded ourselves as an integral part of this outcome" and "we have to consider the HDP as an integral part of the historical democratic dialogue and negotiation process. If socialism and an open democracy succeed in Turkey, it will be closely related to this democratic negotiation process.". [42] Öcalan's niece Dilek Öcalan and Öcalan's nephew Öcalan Urfa'dan were among the HDP parliamentary candidates. [43]

The relationship between the HDP and the PKK has been put forward by the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) as a reason why it would be better for the HDP to not gain representation in Parliament, though government journalists alleged that this would result in greater violence by the PKK and attempts to establish a separate parliament in Diyarbakır. [44] [45] In election posters and propaganda, the HDP has been accused of scaremongering and using the PKK to coerce voters into voting for them, stating that there would be more violence if the HDP failed to pass the election threshold. [46] In contrast, HDP politicians also accused the AKP of scaremongering when they claimed that their affiliation to the PKK made them unfit for parliamentary representation. [44] [47] PKK militants have also been accused of raiding local shops and cafes in the south-east of Turkey and demanding votes for the HDP, with one civilian being wounded when a group of PKK youth militants raided a cafe in Silvan. [48] [49] Selahattin Demirtaş has denied having an 'organic relationship' with the PKK and claimed that the allegations of PKK militants demanding votes for the HDP from voters was untrue. [50] [51]

According to the pro-government daily Daily Sabah, the HDP members have long been accused of voicing their support for the Kurdistan Workers' Party and glorifying terrorism committed by the organization. The members of the HDP, including the former co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, have openly supported the PKK. In 2016, Selahattin Demirtas, whose older brother is a member of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, publicly glorified the PKK's leader Abdullah Öcalan and encouraged people to support the rebellion in his speech in Nowruz. [52] The members of the party have been also accused of providing financial support to the PKK and attending the funeral of killed rebels. On 15 June 2016, the HDP was criticized after its members attended the funeral of Eylem Yaşa, a suicide bomber who had killed police officers and civilians, and injured 51 others in Istanbul. On 20 July 2018, an investigation was launched into two another deputies for attending the funeral of PKK fighters. [53] [54] [55] [56] [57] [58]

In 2016, the Interior Ministry filed a criminal complaint about four HDP members, including former deputy Mülkiye Birtane, for making terror propaganda. [59]

On 1 March 2018, the HDP's deputy Dilek Öcalan, the niece of Abdullah Öcalan, one of the founding members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), was sentenced to two years and six months in prison for making terror propaganda. Two months later, the membership of two deputies, Osman Baydemir and Selma Irmak, were revoked after they were convicted and sentenced on criminal charges related to the PKK. [60] [61] In the same month, the former deputy Aysel Tuğluk was sentenced to ten years in prison for being a member of a terror organization (PKK). [62]

In August 2018, a former deputy Leyla Birlik fled to Greece where she reportedly sought asylum. According to the Turkish sources, she had been arrested in November 2016 for making terror propaganda and released pending trial, but she had left the country despite her travelling ban. [63]

On 11 August 2018, one of the deputies of the party, Mahmud Togrul, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for making terror propaganda. [64] Two months later, the former lawmaker Sırrı Süreyya Önder was sentenced to 3 years and 6 months in jail for spreading terror propaganda. [65]

Kurdish peace process

The Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP) government began a peace process with the PKK in 2013, consisting of a withdrawal of militants from Turkish soil and negotiations towards the normalisation following nearly 30 years of armed conflict between Kurdish rebels and the Turkish Armed Forces. As a strong advocate of minority rights, the HDP was involved in negotiations with both the government and also the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan on İmralı Island.

Relations with the Justice and Development Party

Despite being a left-wing party, the HDP has been accused of negotiating with the conservative orientated right-wing Justice and Development Party (AKP) behind closed doors on issues mainly surrounding the Solution process to the Kurdish separatist militants. Critics of the government and the HDP alleged that such talks could lead to a potential coalition between the AKP and HDP in the event that the HDP enters parliament and the AKP does not win a majority. Such a coalition could potentially deliver Kurdish nationalist demands to the south-east of Turkey while the HDP support the AKP's long-time policy of introducing a presidential system in place of the existing parliamentary system. [66] In March, AKP Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç claimed that the HDP would be their partners in the solution process and expressed his wish to work in harmony, though also accused some HDP MPs of not working towards lasting peace with sincerity. [67] In contrast, government minister Bekir Bozdağ accused the HDP of being part of an 'international project' intending to destabilise the government of Turkey. [68] Relations seemed to sour in early April, where the HDP accused the AKP of staging a pre-planned attack against PKK members in the province of Ağrı aimed at gathering more votes in the upcoming general election. In response, Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan accused Selahattin Demirtaş of acting like a PKK spokesman. In February 2015, HDP chairwoman Figen Yüksekdağ claimed that a joint statement regarding the solution process could be made with the AKP. [69] Delegations from the AKP and the HDP formally met in the Prime Minister's office in Dolmabahçe Palace in April 2015. [70]

2014 Siege of Kobanî protests

The peace process was nearly disbanded after pro-Kurdish protests and riots broke out in south-eastern Turkey protesting the lack of government intervention against the advance of ISIL militants on the city of Kobanî in Syria, just south of the Turkish border. The HDP openly supported the protests, while calling for non-violence. [71] [72] Protestors were met with tear gas and water cannon, leading to more than 40 deaths. [73] Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu heavily criticised the HDP for calling for more protests and responded by drafting a heavily controversial domestic security bill and calling for the HDP to prove itself to be a peaceful political party. [74] Nevertheless, the solution process continued despite the riots, with ISIL being completely ejected from Kobanî by April 2015. [75] HDP MP Altan Tan later claimed that his party had miscalculated the consequences of calling for more protests, although his statements were met with opposition from the confederalist KCK organisation. [76]

Historical leaders

The HDP operates a co-presidential system, whereby the party is chaired by one chairman and one chairwoman, elected during party congresses. Since its establishment in 2012, the party has had a total of six leaders, three men and three women.


The following is a list of the current and previous chairpersons of the HDP, showing the names, birth and death dates where applicable and also the start and end dates of their leadership.

PortraitTerm in Office
1Yavuz Önen
No image.svg Fatma Gök
No image.svg 15 October 201227 October 2013
2 Ertuğrul Kürkçü
Ertugrul Kurkcu (cropped).jpg Sebahat Tuncel
Sebahat Tuncel.jpg 27 October 201322 June 2014
3 Selahattin Demirtaş
Selahattin Demirtas.png Figen Yüksekdağ
Figen Yuksekdag.jpg 22 June 20149 March 2017
Serpil Kemalbay Serpil Kemalbay.jpg 9 March 201711 February 2018
4 Sezai Temelli
Sezai Temelli 3rd ordinary congress.jpg Pervin Buldan
Pervin Buldan (cropped).jpg 11 February 2018Incumbent

Honorary Presidents

In the Extraordinary HDP congress held on 22 June 2014, the outgoing chairperson Ertuğrul Kürkçü was by an amendment in the HDP Bylaw [77] awarded the status of the Honorary President. Kürkçü is the first co-president to serve in that capacity.

No.President (male)
PortraitTerm in Office
1 Ertuğrul Kürkçü
Ertugrul Kurkcu (cropped).jpg 22 June 2014Incumbent

Party congresses

The party has held several ordinary congresses throughout different cities, mostly focussing on provinces in south-eastern Turkey. So far, the party has had two nationwide extraordinary congresses, held in 2013 and 2014, where elections were held to select the chairpersons of the party.

1st Extraordinary congress, 2013

The party's 1st extraordinary congress was held in the Ahmet Taner Kışlalı Stadium in Ankara on 27 October 2013. The HDP Executive Board and the Congressional Preparation Council both recommended Ertuğrul Kürkçü and Sebahat Tuncel for the positions of chairman and chairwoman respectively, after which both formally assumed their positions. The congress focussed mainly in voicing support for the Gezi Park protests. A message from imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, emphasising the party's support for a decentralisation of power and for the establishment of localised 'people's parliaments', was also read out. 105 sitting and 25 reserve members were elected to the Party Council. [78]

2nd Extraordinary congress, 2014

The party's 2nd extraordinary congress was again held in the Ahmet Taner Kışlalı Stadium on 22 June 2014. 156 delegates were eligible to cast votes to elect the new chairman and chairwoman. Since a majority could not be secured in the first two rounds of voting, the leadership election proceeded into a third round where Selahattin Demirtaş was elected as the chairman and Figen Yüksekdağ was elected as the chairwoman of the party. Speeches by the elected leaders mainly centred on the corruption within the Turkish government and also opposition to the established political system. [79] 100 sitting and 50 reserve members for the Party Council were elected. Outgoing chairpersons Ertuğrul Kürkçü and Sebahat Tuncel were declared Honorary Presidents of the party. [80]

Electoral performance

Formed in 2012, the HDP has only since contested one local, one presidential and one general election. A summary of the results and number of candidates elected is shown below.

Local elections

Local elections
Election dateParty leadersCombined votes
of all four elections
2014 Selahattin Demirtaş
Figen Yüksekdağ
0 / 30
0 / 1,351
9 / 20,458
1 / 1,251

2014 local elections

Results obtained by the BDP and HDP by Province in the 2014 local elections 2014 Turkish local elections BDP & HDP.png
Results obtained by the BDP and HDP by Province in the 2014 local elections

At the 2014 municipal elections, HDP ran parallel to BDP, with the BDP running in Turkey's Kurdish-dominated southeast while the HDP competed in the rest of the country [81] except Mersin Province and Konya Province where BDP launched its own candidates. [82]

After the local elections, the two parties were re-organised in a joint structure. On 28 April 2014, the entire parliamentary caucus of BDP joined HDP, whereas BDP (itself re-organised as the Democratic Regions Party by July) was assigned exclusively to representatives on the local administration level. [83] [84]

Presidential elections

Presidential elections
Election dateCandidateVotesPercentagePosition
2014 Selahattin Demirtaş 3,958,0489.773rd
2018 Selahattin Demirtaş 4,205,2198.403rd

2014 presidential election

Selahattin Demirtas's election campaign logo Demirtas (2014 cumhurbaskanligi secim logosu).png
Selahattin Demirtaş's election campaign logo
Votes obtained by Demirtas throughout the 81 Provinces of Turkey 2014 Turkish Presidential Election-Demirtas.PNG
Votes obtained by Demirtaş throughout the 81 Provinces of Turkey

Selahattin Demirtaş was announced as the HDP's candidate for the Presidency on 30 June. In a campaign dominated by the Solution process with Kurdish rebels, he claimed on 5 August in Van that the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had not done enough to bring forward promised legislation, and that the process would collapse immediately if the AKP did not do more to bring lasting peace in the southeast. [85]

On 15 July, Demirtaş outlined his road-map for his presidency should he win the election. In a speech lasting just under an hour, he proposed that the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) should be disbanded, that compulsory religion lessons in schools should be removed and that Cemevis (the Alevi houses of worship) should receive national recognition. [86] He also proposed the introduction of "People's Parliaments" (Cumhur meclisleri), which would also incorporate Youth Parliaments to increase representation of young citizens. [87] Pushing for a new constitution, Demirtaş outlined the need to end the non-representation of different cultures, languages, races and beliefs without delay to ensure national stability. [88] Also in his speech, he praised the Gezi Park protests and displayed photos of himself during the events. He continued to direct applause to the mother of the murdered teenager Berkin Elvan, who died 269 days after being hit by a tear gas canister during the protests and falling into a coma. [89] On the issue of the lack of Turkish flags within the hall in which he was delivering his speech, Demirtaş stated that the Turkish flag represented all citizens of Turkey. [90] His slogan is "Bir Cumhurbaşkanı Düşün" (Imagine a President...), which is followed by several different phrases, such as "Bir Cumhurbaşkanı Düşünün Ayrımcılık yapmıyor. Birleştiriyor, barıştırıyor." (Imagine a President who doesn't Discriminate, who Unites and makes Peace) or "Bir Cumhurbaşkanı Düşünün Herkese Demokrat" (Imagine a President who is Democratic to Everybody). [86] Most of the votes that were cast for Demirtaş were from the Kurdish south-east.

General elections

General election results of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP)
7 June 2015
Selahattin Demirtaş
Figen Yüksekdağ
Turkish general election, June 2015 pie chart.png
Increase2.svg 13.12 pp
Parliament of Turkey June 2015.svg
80 / 550 (Increase2.svg 80)
Interim election government
Turkish general election HDP votes by province.png
1 November 2015
Selahattin Demirtaş
Figen Yüksekdağ
Turkish general election, November 2015 pie chart.png
Decrease2.svg 2.37 pp
Parliament of Turkey November 2015.svg
59 / 550 (Decrease2.svg 21)
Turkish general election, November 2015 (HDP).png
24 June 2018
Sezai Temelli
Pervin Buldan
Increase2.svg 0.94 pp
Parliament of Turkey 2018.svg
67 / 600 (Increase2.svg 19)

June 2015 general election

A HDP election stand in Germany, 3 May 2015 HDP Germany.jpg
A HDP election stand in Germany, 3 May 2015

Emboldened by the 9.77% of the vote won by HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş in the 2014 presidential election the HDP contested the election by fielding party candidates rather than independent candidates. This was controversial since the HDP's votes would be lost in the event that the HDP failed to win above 10% of the vote. There was speculation as to whether the AKP forced Öcalan to pressure the HDP to contest the election as a party in order to boost their own number of MPs. [91] The party charged a ₺2,000 application fee for prospective male candidates, a ₺1,000 fee for female and young candidates under the age of 27 and no fee was collected from disabled applicants. Applications for candidacy were received between 16 February and 2 March. [92]

According to a private poll conducted by the HDP in January 2015, the party needed to gather around 600,000 more supporters by the general election in order to surpass the election threshold of 10% and win 72 MPs. [93] [94] Polling organisations such as Metropoll, however, predicted that the party would win around 55 MPs if they won more than 10%. [95] HDP candidates hoped that the victory of the left-wing SYRIZA in the January 2015 Greek legislative election in January would result in a boost in popularity. [96]

In order to maximise their votes, the party's co-leader Figen Yüksekdağ announced that the HDP would begin negotiations with the United June Movement, a socialist intellectual and political platform that includes left-wing parties such as the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP) and the Labour Party (EMEP). Negotiations between parties began taking place in early 2015, with the intention of forming a broad alliance rather than a strict political coalition. Although Yüksekdağ ruled out negotiating with the CHP since they were 'closed to dialogue' and Demirtaş was opposed to negotiations, CHP deputy leader Sezgin Tanrıkulu said that the CHP was open for talks and that the two parties had until 7 April to come to an agreement. [97]

Provinces in Turkey with a Kurdish-majority population. Provinces of Turkey with Kurdish majorities highlighted.png
Provinces in Turkey with a Kurdish-majority population.

HDP rallied more than expected and gained 13.12% of the total votes cast (6,280,302 out of 46,774,793), breaking the 10% threshold, the minimum set for any Turkish political party to have its representatives sit in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM), and securing 81 seats. The HDP carried victories in 14 out of 85 electoral districts in Turkey: Ardahan, Kars, Iğdır, Ağrı Province, Muş, Bitlis, Van, Turkey, Hakkâri, Şırnak, Siirt, Batman, Mardin, Diyarbakır and Tunceli. These electoral districts are mostly Kurdish-majority provinces. In this election, however, the HDP departed from its traditional Kurdish issues-focused role and embraced other minority ethnic and religious groups in Turkey, women's issues, LGBT and left-wing activists and political groups under its wing, promoting its appeal to a national level and drawing a wider pool of support from all over Turkey. This resulted the HDP to be not only the 4th largest political party in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey but also a formidable force in gaining the Turkish overseas votes, ranking 2nd after the AKP with 20.41% and carrying Japan, Ukraine, Greece, Poland, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Canada and the U.K. The HDP also derailed the AKP from being the majority party, forming a single-party government and reaching 330 seats in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the necessary number to enact a referendum necessary to change the constitution so that Turkey would abandon its traditional parliamentary government and instead adopt an American-style executive presidency government. This is hailed by Turkey's opposition parties and their supporters as the biggest contribution the HDP made to the Republic of Turkey.


Witnessing the 2016 Turkish coup attempt and pointing out previous repression of democracy by martial powers, the HDP strongly opposed the coup. The HDP was nevertheless ignored and put aside of the post-coup national truce while the Turkish purges targeted alleged Gülenists. From September 2016 and forward the Turkish judiciary started submitting HDP supporters, staff and elected officials to anti-terrorism accusations. [98] As of June 2017, more than 10 HDP representatives are under arrest, widely disturbing the HDP's ability to communicate and remain active in the political scene. On June 5, the Turkish interior ministry announced that 130 people who are outside the country while being suspected of militant links will lose their citizenship unless they return to Turkey within three months and meet government standards. Three of the suspects are HDP leaders: Faysal Sarıyıldız  [ fr ], Tuğba Hezer Öztürk  [ fr ], and Özdal Üçer  [ tr ]. [99]

Parliamentary politicians

  1. Meral Danış Beştaş
  2. Behçet Yıldırım (injured in parliament brawl on 2018.03.09) [100]
  3. Berdan Öztürk
  4. Dirayet Taşdemir
  5. Leyla Zana (possible expulsion [101] )
  6. Sırrı Süreyya Önder
  7. Ayşe Acar Başaran  [ tr ]
  8. Mehmet Ali Aslan
  9. Saadet Becerekli
  10. Hişyar Özsoy  [ tr ]
  11. Mahmut Celadet Gaydalı  [ tr ]
  12. Mizgin Irgat
  13. Nursel Aydoğan
  14. İdris Baluken
  15. Çağlar Demirel  [ tr ]
  16. Nimettullah Erdoğmuş
  17. Ziya Pir
  18. Altan Tan  [ tr ]
  19. İmam Taşçıer  [ tr ]
  20. Feleknas Uca
  21. Sibel Yiğitalp  [ tr ]
  22. Mahmut Toğrul
  23. Nihat Akdoğan  [ tr ]
  24. Selma Irmak
  25. Abdullah Zeydan  [ tr ]
  26. Mehmet Emin Adıyaman
  27. Erdal Ataş
  28. Pervin Buldan
  29. Selahattin Demirtaş (jailed 2016/11/04-present)
  30. Celal Doğan  [ tr ]
  31. Hüda Kaya
  32. Filiz Kerestecioğlu
  33. Garo Paylan
  34. Müslüm Doğan
  35. Ertuğrul Kürkçü
  36. Ayhan Bilgen  [ tr ]
  37. Ali Atalan
  38. Erol Dora
  39. Mithat Sancar
  40. Gülser Yıldırım  [ tr ]
  41. Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat
  42. Burcu Çelik Özkan (jailed 2017/04/19-present, condammed to 7 years in appeal for "terrorism propaganda" [102] )
  43. Ahmet Yıldırım (forcefully dismissed on 2018.02.27 [103] )
  44. Besime Konca  [ tr ] (jailed from 2009 to 2014. Jailed again for 2.5 years on May 2017, on "membership of terror organisation and terror propaganda", released from jail on July 29, 2017 [104] )
  45. Kadri Yıldırım  [ tr ]
  46. İbrahim Ayhan(forcefully dismissed on 2018.02.27 [103] )
  47. Osman Baydemir
  48. Dilek Öcalan (jailed 2018/03/01-present)
  49. Leyla Birlik  [ tr ]
  50. Ferhat Encü  [ tr ]
  51. Aycan İrmez
  52. Faysal Sarıyıldız  [ tr ] (exiled, wanted 2017/06/05)
  53. Alican Önlü  [ tr ]
  54. Lezgin Botan
  55. Adem Geveri
  56. Tuğba Hezer Öztürk  [ tr ] (exiled, wanted 2017/06/05)
  57. Bedia Özgökçe Ertan
  58. Nadir Yıldırım
  59. Figen Yüksekdağ (jailed 2016/11/04-present)

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