‘If HDP fails to surpass the electoral threshold, it will impact on the future of the country’

Co-chair of HDP, Pervin Buldan: If HDP fails to surpass the electoral threshold, this will be a problem for the other political parties in Turkey.

Serpil İLGÜN

With the confirmation of candidates for the presidency, the focus for the elections shifted to which party will have the majority in the Parliament. It is accepted by all that the Kurdish vote will affect not only the Presidential elections but also determine the outcome of the Parliamentary elections; in which those that do not vote for AKP would be factious according to Tayyip Erdoğan.

HDP, abandoned to face the threshold of 10% [of the total votes] – in a journey that started with calls for ‘zero threshold’ in an attempt to democratise Turkey and to stop the one-man, one-party regime which is the goal of the Presidential Alliance – will today reveal its own roadmap in attempting to surpass the threshold. The statement made by Selahattin Demirtaş, the HDP presidential candidate, will be important in giving substance to the slogan “It can change with you.”

Nine MPs, including Demirtaş, elected mayors, thousands of members and intendants of HDP are in prison; 11 MPs of the party also had been relieved of their duties as MPs. How will the party overcome conditions of the State of Emergency (OHAL), the antidemocratic election laws and the never-ending operations?

We discussed the key issues of the election with the co-chair of HDP, Pervin Buldan.

Conditions of OHAL and the recently changed electoral legislation does away with democratic electoral competition, but another important hurdle for HDP is its relentless criminalisation every day. How will your party overcome these hurdles? How will you get your message to the electorate?

Indeed, it is hard to run an electoral campaign under OHAL but this is not an issue that affects HDP only. The whole of the population in Turkey is affected by OHAL; other parties are subjected to it too. Under conditions where our colleagues are prosecuted every day, we will, of course, find a way to reach the electorate and our base; we will build a network to take our message to the population through activities and rallies. Maybe we will not be heard on media outlets controlled by the government but we will share every activity, meeting and rally with peoples of; Turkey even if it’s only through social media. Our main job will be to meet the electorate on the doorstep and we will try to go to every door.

Considering that the change in electoral legislation is targeting to ‘not let HDP come out of the ballot box’’ in the region, what will your strategy in the region be?

The people will take ownership of the ballot boxes, we are sure of that. This is not the first time we face such conditions. Regardless of its legalisation of these acts this time around, we know that such tactics are used in every election period. Regardless, the Kurdish electorate is very political; they are aware of these tactics and irregularities. Therefore we will call on the electorate to “ not leave the ballot boxes unattended, protect your votes; stay there until the evening of the 24th of June”. I sincerely believe that the electorate and our supporters will act with this consciousness and drive. Our people will protect their votes and ballot boxes with political conviction, without falling into the trap of provocations, in a calm and measured manner.

FAILURE OF HDP TO SURPASS THE THRESHOLD IS A PROBLEM FOR THE WHOLE OF THE OPPOSITION

In discussions for an alliance, CHP took a ‘non-party political’ stance, but its reluctance to insist on the inclusion of HDP was seen as ‘lack of courage’. What is your take on this: is it lack of courage; an attempt to prevent attacks by the ruling block; or the fact that the perspective of the CHP executive is not too dissimilar to the line of the ‘state’?

Let me make one thing clear: as of now, CHP already lost its status as the main opposition party. The separation and turning a blind eye displayed by the ‘main’ opposition party is watched closely by the peoples of Turkey. We held no discussions behind closed doors, neither did we attempt to bargain with anyone. They entered an alliance and decided to leave HDP out of it. It is clear that, as it stands, the threshold targets HDP only. We are indeed capable of surpassing the threshold. Nevertheless, we believe that the course taken is not a democratic one. CHP is the respondent to the question on why HDP was shunned; they should answer this question rather than us.

It should not be forgotten that AKP will have 70 to 80 more MPs, should HDP fail to surpass the electoral threshold. The electorate cannot ignore this reality as it will impact on the future of the country. Everyone should be concerned about the fact that the AKP-MHP coalition will subject the population of Turkey to more than what they already suffered. This is not only our problem; it is also a problem for CHP, İYİ Party, SP and all other political parties in Turkey. I think people should really consider this both from a democratic and a political perspective.

KURDS IN THE WEST OF THE COUNTRY SHOULD WITHDRAW THEIR SUPPORT FOR AKP

Let’s talk about the AKP manifesto – mainly uninspiring and unconvincing – from the perspective of the promises that operations will be continued and further operations will be launched. If it is important for Erdoğan and AKP to secure the Kurdish vote, why this emphasis on security politics?

First, I would like to make it clear that the AKP manifesto is one of total collapse. And yes, Erdoğan did give a message that promises more of the same. For this reason, especially Kurds who vote for AKP must seriously consider their decision.

Imprisoned Kurdish politicians, as well as what happened in Afrin and clear indications that the attitude towards Kurdish people will continue to be one of security politics; all of these are discussed very seriously among the Kurdish population. I must stress that there have been serious fractures and Kurdish support for AKP in the West of the country is greatly reduced.

I would like to call on the Kurdish population living in the West of the country; you must withdraw your support for AKP. It is now time for Kurds to be united. Kurds must withdraw their support for AKP in order to fight all tyranny, denial, destruction and resettlement targeted at them.

IT CANNOT BE ACCEPTED POLITICALLY, MORALLY AND CONSCIENTIOUSLY

In terms of antidemocratic conditions and barriers, Selahattin Demirtaş, who has been in prison for a year and a half, is the candidate that is most disadvantaged. His candidacy seems to be supported by wide sections of society, how will you work towards developing this support and making it widespread?

Demirtaş – held hostage in prison – will not be able to run a campaign on an equal footing against the other candidates. This is a situation that is unacceptable politically, morally and in the conscience of politics in Turkey. While his opponents are meeting with the electorate: Demirtaş will try to reach them via twitter or messages – both delivered through his solicitor – being read to us by third parties. I believe that Demirtaş will still receive many more votes than his opponents; the atmosphere is ripe for this to happen. We will continue our campaign, calling for his release and an end to this anti-democratic practice.

 

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Opposition to Erdogan in Britain is growing

Erdogan’s visit to the UK is an opportunity to whitewash his government’s dire human rights record and detract attention from Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian anti-democratic politic. Without international pressure Erdogan will continue unhindered, using the state of emergency and the anti-democratic decrees to maintain his authoritarian rule. The purge of public sector workers, clamp down on all democratic opposition and the media, as well as escalating military aggression against Kurdish people and regions both within and beyond the country’s borders must be stopped.
We condemn Theresa May’s failure to condemn Turkey’s unacceptable aggression both within and outside its borders in the Middle East. We call on all democratic and progressive individuals, politicians and organisations to condemn our government’s collusion in Turkey’s crimes against human rights, freedom and democracy.
Erdogan is due to meet with the Prime Minister and the Queen on Tuesday. We must make it clear that he is not welcome here and send a message to our government that collusion with Erdogan ahead of a critical presidential election that seeks to cement one party, one man rule is unacceptable.
Join us on Tuesday 15 May at 10:00am outside No.10 Downing Street to protest Erdogan’s visit. The protest will be followed by a march and rally at midday.
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Will robots celebrate May Day?

If the robots have been exploited by capitalism, will they attend May Day marches for that reason?

An interesting caricature appeared on Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of the most prominent newspapers in Germany. In this caricature by Oliver Schopf, four robots are marching with a May Day banner. One of the robots appear to be holding a flag “May Day 4.0” written on it.
The message Schopfintents to give, of course, is that if Industry 4.0 effectuates, robots replacing heavy industry workers will also participate in May Day celebrations instead of these workers.
So the message given is that workers would not have to attend to May Day marches in order to claim their rights.
But it is also possible to view the caricature from the opposite angle: The robots will have been exploited enough by capitalism too, so they may attend May Day marches for that reason.

Why not?

If robots with “artificial intelligence” are able to think like human beings, perceive like they do and proceed to make evaluations according to situations, then it is also possible for robots with “artificial intelligence” to act against the will of their bosses.
The workers working around the clock alongside conveyor belts are taking their place in May Days, strikes and marches because they do not want to comply with the wishes of the bosses.

Making use of robots more frequently and discarding human labour is discussed heavily in the context of Industry 4.0 in the last few years. This debate is naturally distressing for workers of industrial plants the most. How this situation is going to affect automotive sector, the backbone of German industry, is a largely speculative matter.

It is in plan to use more robots in order to reduce manufacturing costs since all monopolies are conditioned to produce more and cheaper electronic cars. Ford’s European headquarters located in Cologne are discussing the upcoming situation after 2021. It is needless to say, using robots in manufacture is neither a new development nor a new debate. Robots are broadly used in many sectors already. Nonetheless, a state of “manufacturing without human labour” is not yet achieved. Even though the number of human workers is reduced, there is no industrial plant without human workers. It will always be workers who will be manufacturing, programming, using and releasing robots. Neither will robots come from another planet, nor their manufacturers.

Therefore, the future anxiety created by the means of “humanless manufacturing” rhetoric serves only exploiters who are making their profits through surplus value of the production.

The monopolies who are using unemployed masses as an element of oppression for their employees in order to prevent them from demanding higher wages and claiming their rights, will also use robots in the future as a threat for human workers. They will blackmail workers by saying “if you demand too much, we will put robots to your place”.

Hence the emphasis in German May Day celebrations on novel problems that will emerge in the workplace as a result of “digital transformation” is not by chance. Therefore the reaction of the workers’ unions to this is of great importance.
The capitalists with the primary motivation of making profit solely acts through considering profit-cost calculation. “To increase production profits by means of improving production efficiency and expanding the exploitation of surplus value added by the workers is the primary reason behind the transformation and improvement of production tools” (Yusuf Akdağ, Teori ve Eylem, Nisan 2018).
As it was pointed out, using machinery and robotics instead of workers is not a novel debate. Karl Marx, whose 200th birthday was recently celebrated, largely deals with this issue in the first volume of his magnum opus, Das Kapital, especially in Chapter 15.

Marx, by giving the example of employment of machinery in textile production in England in his day, concludes that “the condition in which machinery excludes the workers from purchasing tools, also excludes them from the position of purchaser. As a result of this, demand for the produced meta decreases – voila tout- (and that’s all) (451)
So the secret of capitalism lies in the supply-demand equilibrium. Is it likely for robots to consume what they produce? Who knows, capitalists might even produce “consumer robots”!

Since the world’s capitalists are aware of this fact, they have been discussing handing out ” subsistence wages” to everyone as a vision for the future. They presume that they can solve problems by giving wages enough for basic livelihood to everyone regardless of working status.
Even solely this fact proves that more people should attend to May Days in the future, not robots. What immortalizes Marx, whose statue will be erected in his birthplace Trier in compliment to his 200th birthday, is his demonstration to humankind of how to analyze capitalist mode of production and ultimately overthrow it.

Article written by Yücel ÖZDEMİR

 

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Erdoğan’s manifesto in 5 points: The only pledge for women is ‘to shoulder the government’s burden’

There’s not even a single pledge for women at Erdoğan’s manifesto for elections but expects the women to shoulder the entire burden of the government.

A lot has been scribbled about Erdoğan’s “Covenant Manifesto”; let us take a look at what is said under the “women” section…

1- Asserting that “we have women awaiting a duty in work-life whose path we have paved through a fight against all kinds of discrimination,” he declares that “they have done everything that could be done for women.” Moreover, he asserts this as though it wasn’t he himself who said “A women who says she is employed abstains from motherhood. A woman who has refused to be a mother, who has given up putting her home together, no matter how successful professionally, she has something missing, is a half [women/person].”
There is no mention of the issues experienced by women but there is the claim that women will continue to face whatever they are currently facing. While women who are employed experience their motherhood with a guilty conscience due to their trimmed maternity and birth allowances, while they are forcibly made to leave their children to places where they can’t trust since what they earn is not enough for childcare, while they are constantly insulted by boss and managers and are sick and tired of being subjected to abuse and discrimination in workplaces, what is exactly expected? To put up with these conditions in the name of “duty”.

2- He states that “we will continue to support all women in all areas ranging from education and learning to employment, health and family.” Today there are more than 16 million women living in poverty in Turkey. 64% of employed women are not satisfied with their work conditions. 3 out of 10 women are in unregulated employment and a half of employed women will not have a pension. 1 million women since 2015 had to leave work because of childcare. Girls are forced away from formal education. Pre-school education has been condemned to the hands of religious sects. This is the table they will continue to paint. What then is expected? Sacrifice!…

3- “The abuse of women, violence and harassment; are crimes committed against humanity. We will continue with all our effort and initiative until we completely eradicate this disgrace from our country” he says…  In the last 15 years, 6,546 women have been killed by those closest to them, with some while under governmental protection. More than 50% of these murders took place in the process of Martial law [OHAL], at a time when it was claimed that extraordinary “safety measures” were taken. Child abuse increased by 700% in the last decade; one out of every 4 rape cases heard at courts relates to children. Consider additionally that only 5% of sexual offences against children are revealed. Do recall the attempts at the Assembly not to prevent child abuse but to decrease the age of consent to 12 so that abuse is whitewashed through marriage. Expected is the shouldering of this terrifying tableau together.

4- He states that “we have trampled all traditions of the age of ignorance against women and will continue to do so too. We will continue with this struggle until such time when women have become individuals of this country and nation who have all kinds of rights equally.” It is as though it is not he himself who asserts at every opportunity that “you cannot bring women and men into the same position, this is against creation.” As the leader of the government who considers the life of women to be in the home, at the service of men and restricts it with the care of children, the ill and the aged, who paved the way for the early leaving of girls from education and child marriage, to preach about “making all women individuals who have who have all kinds of rights equally” are just hollow words.

5- “We have enabled Turkey to cross a great threshold by making our party’s women’s branches more active”, “we have considered the presence of our women in all fields of social life and decision-making structures as vital for our future and have taken steps in this direction,” it says. Yes, it is evident that they view the presence of women in these fields vital for their future; it is precisely due to this that “women who were not reasonable for them in these fields” were ‘forcibly’ removed from these fields. Tens of women MPs, council co-leader, women politicians are imprisoned. 11 women’s organisations were shut down due to Martial Law. Just as the way in which the government condemns women to a public life they have themselves designed with “defined limits, gendered character and that is divorced from life and is discriminatory,” through pink buses and pink shopping centres, it also describes the single condition for the presence of women in social and political life as “making the AKP women branches more active.”

Erdoğan states that “we are going to shoulder the burden with women at the historical juncture ahead of us…” There is not even a single pledge for women, but there is assigning of “duties” which demands all kinds of sacrifices from women and which expects the women to shoulder the entire burden of the government’s past and future. Furthermore, Erdoğan also wants to apportion the entire bill of all kinds of negative developments against himself to women before it even takes place, stating as he does that “We will shoulder the burden together.”
The unemployment of women, the work and life conditions they have been condemned to, concern and fears for the future of children show that women are the shackled slaves of this walking ship. Ask those who hear words of “sacrifice” without a pause from the husband at home, from the boss at work, from the one-man in politics; is anything left to shoulder this burden anymore?

 

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Selma Gürkan: Halting the ‘Presidential Alliance’ is the first step towards democracy

’24th June is a critical point in strengthening the one-man regime. It is important that HDP surpasses the electoral threshold to stop this advance.’

Serpil İLGÜN

Those that will be running against Erdoğan in the Presidential election and which parties will enter alliances in the parliamentary elections were decided within the last week.

As expected, a ‘People’s Alliance’ on parliamentary elections only has been agreed between Republican People’s Party (CHP), İYİ (Good) Party, Islamist Saadet Party (SP) and Democrat Party (DP); HDP has been left out of this alliance. The presidential candidates will be Selahattin Demirtaş and Muharrem İnce for Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and CHP respectively. The attempts to an alliance between labour and democratic forces outside of the parliament have been unsuccessful.

We spoke to Selma Gürkan, chairwoman of the Labour Party (EMEP), regarding the current situation and their election policies. EMEP had recently called for an electoral alliance and a joint candidate between the forces of labour and democracy.

It has long been claimed that the ruling bloc would go to an early election. EMEP can’t take part in the elections to be held on 24 June. Were you unprepared?

An early election in Autumn 2018 was expected. However, faced with the problems brought on by the worsening economic and political conditions, the ruling block called a snap election. Hence, we were politically ready but it is the undemocratic legislation of party and elections laws that left us unable to take part in the elections.

A party must have representation in 41 cities, and two-thirds of the towns within those city limits, within the six months prior to an election. The Supreme Court can make undemocratic demands based on membership by address and each organisation to have held their congress before an election; hence it can make organisations and memberships void. Consequently, we had enough representation but these were reduced in numbers and EMEP was prevented from entering the elections. We continue to work towards overcoming these barriers.

You stated your support for Selahattin Demirtaş and HDP in the presidential and parliamentary elections respectively. How did you arrive at this decision?

We didn’t base our decision on which of the alliances to side with. We looked at the main issues: the crucial political issues in Turkey; the oppressive regime of the ruling block; the new legislation and bans curbing rights and freedoms; the democratic resolution of the Kurdish issue, which is a strong indicator of democratisation in Turkey.

24 June is a change of regime, a critical step in the establishment and strengthening of a ‘one-man, one-party rule’. We believe that HDP surpassing the electoral threshold is very important to halt this advance. Furthermore, oppression and legislation that denies the political will of the Kurdish people, and especially attempts to keep HDP out of the parliament are continued. The need for solidarity between Kurdish and Turkish people and the peaceful-democratic resolution of the Kurdish issue becomes more pressing by the day.

Does your support mean putting forward candidates through the lists of HDP? What was the framework in your discussions?

We believe as a party that forces of labour, democracy and peace should enter the presidential and parliamentary elections as an alliance around their immediate demands. We do not think it is right to put forward a candidate without such an alliance. It is also true that under the current conditions the basis for such an alliance is greatly restricted.

What do you think on HDP’s actions in this process? What are your thoughts on the criticism they receive: on their talking about the necessity for the unity of democratic forces but not attempting to achieve this in practice?

An alliance in these undemocratic election conditions is a crucial need. You would expect the forces of labour, democracy and peace to take a responsible stance in their practice. Furthermore, it is clear that there is such a demand and expectation from the people. We think that the HDP executive did not show determination and courage in organising and taking steps to achieve this; this is what leads to the criticisms. It is important that future discussions are held on a united, joint stand in the struggle for democracy.

You called on democratic forces for an alliance and a joint candidate but this did not receive support. Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP) Executive member Alper Taş said that it was too late for this; stating that EMEP did not engage in their attempts for a joint candidate before the elections were called. Why didn’t you?

Rather than a democratic alliance, ÖDP persisted on a left-socialist alternative that did not involve CHP and HDP. We didn’t think this was the right approach; hence, we an agreement could not be reached in the negotiations.

In terms of being ‘too late’, it is still possible to gather around common democratic demands and mutual interests saying “we, the listed parties, will enter the election as a block within this framework.” There is still time for this; we did not miss the train yet.

On the other hand, it is clear that the election campaign will continue past 24 June as a struggle for democracy. This will not be an election about introducing candidates and asking for votes; we are in an election period of bans and obstructions, more importantly, we are under State of Emergency (OHAL) conditions and are governed through Statutory Decrees of law (KHKs). Thus, the president is exempt from electoral restrictions thanks to the latest KHK. Even that is not enough: partner of the ruling coalition, Devlet Bahçeli, openly threatened people who will support those candidates that need 100 thousand signatures to stand for office. Hence the clear need for democratic unity and alliances both prior to and after 24 June.

What will your election campaign look like?

We will primarily try to expose the political regime this rulership is after; a campaign that aims to show workers from Turkish, Kurdish, Arab and all other backgrounds how a ‘one-man, one-party rule’ is dragging the country towards a catastrophe. We will try to expose the economic policies of Erdoğan and his governments: attacks on freedom of speech and the media, the organisation of the working class, political rights and freedoms. We will expose the policies of the government hostile to the people and the workers; policies that make life unbearable for women, youth and children. This is our main duty anyway and the election campaign will be a vehicle to deliver this. We’ll take this campaign to all factories, workplaces, universities and colleges.

What will your party do if the presidential elections go to a second round?

We need to see if there will be the second ballot; it is possible that there won’t. We have seen this government’s disregard for the will of the people – in previous elections on 7 June and 16 April -when it doesn’t get the desired results form the ballot box; they will try everything they can to hold on to power. Erdoğan’s threat to the people in saying “you attempted to go for a different path and we all witnessed the consequences” points to this. What did we see when Erdoğan and his government were unhappy with the results on 7 June; bombings, massacres, conflict, the devastation of cities and the loss of hundreds of lives… The rulership dragged the country into chaos and conflict and followed policies aimed at polarising the population. Hence, he is giving the message that consequences that are much worse could follow unsatisfactory election results.

It is highly likely that they will try to confiscate ballot boxes and cause chaos and disputes at polling stations. Therefore, while we attempt to strengthen democracy and create an alternative political choice, we should also have a perspective that takes necessary steps to protect ballot boxes,  that prevents the fraudulent sacrifice of the will of the people.

Consequently, the focus for us today will be a campaign that ensures the defeat of the ‘Presidential Alliance’ and a second round in the presidential election. We would like to support the same candidate as in the first; if the developments are to the contrary, our executive will review the situation and take necessary decisions.

POLARISATION CAN ONLY BE DEFEATED BY BREATHING LIFE INTO DEMOCRATIC DEMANDS; NOT BY CREATING ANOTHER RIGHTWING BLOCK

‘People’s Alliance’ was formed without the HDP; forming another rightwing, nationalist, conservative alliance against ‘Presidential Alliance’. What are your thoughts on this?

This means doing politics within the boundaries drawn by Erdoğan, especially for CHP. Despite secular and social-democrat elements within it; the real make-up of this alliance is clear. Political activity within boundaries determined by Erdoğan is what makes him so successful. One needs to look at Erdoğan’s election promises to decide on the alternative needed to be put forward against his alliance. What does Erdoğan say?: more democracy; more rule of law; more welfare and income. Against a rulership that admits that the lack of these, one must argue for a political regime that protects freedoms and rights. A second rightwing block will not disperse the polarisation and unite the people; that will be achieved by demanding democratic rights and political freedoms and meeting immediate economic and social demands.

‘ANYONE BUT ERDOĞAN’ IS THE WRONG ATTITUDE

One of the main points the ‘People’s Alliance’ agrees upon is a return to the parliamentarian system; Is this the issue? Will a parliamentarian system solve Turkey’s political crisis?

We are against the presidential system but do not want the old parliamentary system back either. However, it is important to halt the political discourse represented by the values and political reaction of Erdoğan and the ‘Presidential Alliance’. ‘Anyone but Erdoğan’ would be the wrong attitude. The defeat of his alliance and the election of a new president will not mean that Turkey is over its problems; it would mean the defeat of a government that wants to establish a reactionary and fascist political regime. Of course, this would not be insignificant but will not mean a democratic triumph either.

Our struggle will continue for a political system where: the judiciary is free and democratic; the press is free; the governance of the country is determined by the will of the people; the election and political party legislations are democratic; a constitution that secures all of these is established. We continue to struggle for a system based on the rule of the working class.

Serpil İLGÜN (Evrensel Daily)

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More than a million people tweeted to say ‘enough’ to President Erdoğan

More than a million people tweeted to call time on President Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday, making the word ‘Tamam’ (Enough) a trending topic worldwide.

More than a million people tweeted to call out President Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday, making the word ‘tamam’ (meaning ‘enough’) a trending topic worldwide after he said, “If one day our nation says ‘enough’, then we will step aside”.

Soon after the speech, the #Tamam hashtag swept across Turkish-language Twitter, then became a global trending topic.

Erdogan’s rivals in the presidential polls also jumped in, with the “Tamam” tweets from his main opponents.

Social media has become the primary platform for opposition against the government in Turkey, where traditional media is saturated with coverage of Erdoğan and his ministers. Erdoğan’s speeches, usually two or three a day, are all broadcast live on major channels, while opposition parties get little or no coverage.

Erdoğan has been ruled Turkey for 15 years and last month, he declared snap elections for June 24, bringing the polls forward by more than a year. (EVRENSEL DAILY)

 

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Let’s reject the one-man regime with enthusiasm of May Day!

The people who came together around the values of May Day clearly stand opposed to a ‘one party, one-man regime’.

Workers all over the world, from Tokyo to Paris, Sydney to Havana declared not just their demands against capitalist exploitation but also protested imperialist war ambitions.

Of course 1 May 2018 was also celebrated in Turkey by protesting against capitalist attacks, the governments domestic and foreign policies and the economic trajectory.

According to the news reports reaching us at the time of writing;
– İstanbul, Ankara and Izmir led participations in May Day celebrations across Turkey’s towns and cities, which attracted masses in numbers incomparable to previous years.
– As expected the demands for better working and living conditions were prominent amongst the May Day demonstrators. The prominent demands and issues related to low wages, job insecurity, outsourcing, arbitrary dismissal, trade union membership, and education and health.
– Demonstrators carried placards and banners calling for an end to the State of Emergency, the cancellation of all statutory decrees, peace and fraternity against the war, and rejecting attempts to establish a “one man one party regime”.

On the other hand, it is without a doubt that this year’s May Day attracted the largest May Day demonstrations recent years.
Despite some trade union confederations holding rallies in different cities, it is right to say that participation by both trade union and political circles at May Day was higher than in previous years.

Of course when viewed as a whole; trade union groups largely highlighted workers demands whilst political parties and their groups highlighted political demands. When compared with previous years, this year’s banners and placards featured fewer economic and political demands. Demands were overshadowed by party, political groups and trade union flags. This should be noted as a weakness to be overcome. Of course, that banners featuring direct criticism of the government were not permitted (and that this was known in advance) may have led to this outcome. In Maltepe for example demonstrators were allowed entry only after passing through three security barriers and banners directly criticizing the government were not permitted.

The reasons for higher participation in May Day as compared to previous years is due primarily to the following reasons:

1-) Discontent with the ongoing state of emergency, the effects of which have become heightened by the “war time” practices, have accumulated into a reaction.

2-) Capitalist attacks on hard won rights have reached a level at which workers are feeling the pain.

3-) The public chose to express their opposition to attempts by the Erdogan-Bahceli alliance to drag the country into a “one-man regime” by attending the May Day demonstrations.

In the end May Day is now in the past and today the most important issue which could legalise the “one party one-man regime” is the election on 24 June.

Both in İstanbul and across the country, the May Day demonstrations show that the people (of Turkey and the region) want a secular, democratic Turkey in which there is fraternity between people. The people who came together around the values of May Day clearly stand opposed to a “one party, one-man regime”. Moreover, the size of these masses is not insignificant – as long as these people can (beyond voting) mobilise around the demands articulated at May Day!

Attendees estimated that approximately 200-300 thousand people joined the May Day rally. In fact, a sizeable number of people think this number is higher. But what is important is the growth of demonstrators compared to previous years and the reasons for this increase. Based on the period ahead of us, it will be possible to look at who will be shaping this organizational progress and the backgrounds of participants.

Article written by Ihsan Caralan

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