03/30/2023, 21.25
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Elections: Erdogan turning to Islamist extremism to win

A united opposition with the possible support of the most important Kurdish party has made the upcoming election more competitive. In response, the ruling alliance has welcomed the YRP and Huda-Par, parties that barely reach 1 per cent of the vote. Under the election deal they agreed to, the law to prevent violence against women and children would be repealed. LGBTQ+ rights will also be targeted.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking support in the country’s radical Islamist camp as a defeat in the 14 May election appears a strong possibility, especially after opposition parties formed an alliance that might also benefit from the Kurdish vote.

Two new Islamist parties, the New Welfare Party (YRP) and Huda-Par, have recently joined the president’s the People’s Alliance, which is backing his re-election bid.

If successful, this marriage of convenience could seriously affect the rights of women and minorities (as well as Syrian refugees) and move any future government led by the AKP (Justice and Development Party) further to the right.

Many observers note that presidential and legislative elections set to take place in a few weeks are the most uncertain and hard-fought of the last 20 years, a period that saw the AKP and its leader Erdogan dominate Turkish politics.

Possible loss explains why Erdogan is trying to co-opt hitherto undesirable allies, amid growing panic in government circles faced with an increasingly united and strong opposition.

Enticing two political parties that barely exceed 1 per cent of the vote is not a sign of great vigour, even if it fits with the increasing right-wing shift in Erdogan's politics, which combine nationalism and Islam.

Since 2018, YRP’s leader Fatih Erbakan has rebuilt the party founded by his father in 1983, holding on to its traditional religious and anti-secular line. Based on the latter’s Milli Gurus (national vision) ideology, the line is well rooted in the diaspora, especially in Europe, thanks to an important network of schools and mosques.

Recently, a member of the YRP’s youth group sparked an acrimonious row by calling for the quick reintroduction of Sharia (Islamic law) in Turkey.

Seeking the support of extremist groups comes, of course, a price. Erdogan’s new allies have their own wish list with at least 30 demands, including repealing Law 6248 of 2012 on the prevention of violence against women and children.

in a country where at least three women are killed every day in domestic violence, this demand is madness, says lawyer Gokcecicek Ayata, speaking to al-Monitor,

Even within the ruling AKP, this would be a "red line" for some, this despite the fact that Erdogan signed a presidential decree in March 2021 to pull out of the Council of Europe convention to protect women.

But officially, for the AKP, “no abnormal proposal by the New Welfare Party on women’s rights” have been made. “Our president is very meticulous about this issue.” 

Another non-negotiable demand for the New Welfare Party is the ban on all associations and groups that defend LGBTQ+ rights and equality in society.

Dilek Bulut of the Left Feminist Movement warns that amending Law 6284 would make women more vulnerable to violence.

“In an environment where violence and discrimination against women is increasing and becoming [more] savage every day, those who annulled the Istanbul Convention have now revealed their true faces by making Law 6284 a subject of negotiation,” she laments.

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