European Green Party: A Democratic Turkey is Possible

Brussels, 12 May 2023

Mélanie Vogel, co-chair of the European Green Party, Mina Jack Tolu, committee member of the European Green Party and Vula Testsi, committee member of the European Green Party, comment: 

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has ruled Turkey for the last 20 years. During the last decade, his government has become increasingly authoritarian both inside Turkey and abroad. His attacks on the Kurdish community in Turkey and in neighbouring countries continue to this day. His crackdown on political opponents, independent media, academic freedom and women’s rights has made Turkey notorious for some of Europe’s most systematic human rights abuses. 

Erdoğan’s mismanagement of the economy has pushed Turkey to the bottom of OECD countries whichever indicators you use. Inflation has gone through the roof and a growing part of the population cannot afford food and other basic necessities. The government’s response has been to vilify a wide range of social groups: journalists, academics, women, LGBTI people, the list goes on. Polarisation has become extreme and unbearable. And last but certainly not least: Erdoğan’s rule has been characterised by rampant corruption and clientelism, including the harsh plundering and exploitation of nature and public assets for personal gain. This was most tragically exemplified by the shocking unpreparedness and incompetently managed rescue efforts of the February 2023 earthquake. More than 50 000 people died in Turkey, and hundreds of thousands are still injured or displaced.

We stand in solidarity with the citizens and political parties who seek democratic change in Turkey. We firmly believe that a democratic Turkey is necessary, possible and desirable. Opinion polls consistently show that the majority does not support Erdoğan nor his allies. This election is first and foremost about restoring democracy in Turkey.

It is shameful that the Erdoğan regime has decided to suppress its political rivals. We denounce the systematic repression and politically motivated banning procedure initiated by Erdoğan to exclude the HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) from the election campaign. Due to this, the HDP has decided to campaign under the banner of the Green Left Party and support them with full force to contest the elections with them. In the last few weeks, hundreds of people belonging to the opposition and especially to the HDP as well as the Green Left Party have been arrested – among them politicians, lawyers and journalists. Dozens of them remain detained to this day. Last weekend, a violent gang close to the ruling parties attacked the opposition at rallies and election campaign events in various cities. Several people were injured. Our deepest sympathy and hope for a speedy recovery go out to the victims of these heinous attacks. We should be clear: these are not just attacks on individual citizens and candidates, but attacks on the democratic process.

The recent political repression follows years of blatant disregard for basic democratic rules. Turkey’s Ministry of Interior has refused to register ​​Yeşiller Partisi (Greens Party), despite several lawsuits won by the latter. Today Turkey is not a free and democratic country, but change is on the horizon.

We anticipate an extraordinary mobilisation of the citizens of Turkey to exercise their democratic rights and go and vote on Sunday. We appeal to the Turkish authorities to refrain from interfering in the election process and commit to free and fair elections. And we send our support to our partners and friends who are working for a democratic, ecological, women’s rights based and free Turkey.

We hope a new chapter is opening up for Turkey and the rest of Europe. We look forward to writing it together.