Home > IV Online magazine > 2023 > IV580 - May 2023 > An Uneasy Alliance on the Left


An Uneasy Alliance on the Left

Wednesday 24 May 2023, by Metin Feyyaz

Save this article in PDF Version imprimable de cet article Version imprimable

The 14 May 2023 elections were expected with great hope for the left in Turkey. The possibility of ending the oppressive regime of the AKP, which has lasted for more than 20 years, would provide breathing space for left and especially for the Kurdish Movement, whose thousands of activists were imprisoned or in exile so main expactation was to have partial democratization move to be opened after this election.

For this reason, in the broadest sense, the left in Turkey supported the opposition presidential candidate in the presidential elections, while in the parliamentary elections, it entered the elections with a separate alliance under the name of "Labor and Freedom Alliance". “Labor and Freedom”, constituted by the HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party, a left-wing party from the Kurdish movement), the TIP (Workers’ Party of Turkey where our comrades of the Fourth International are active) and four other formations of the radical left.

Candidate who could win or candidate who would change nothing

The Labor and Freedom Alliance was actually established long before the elections, although its primary purpose was defined as an alliance of struggles, not an electoral alliance, of course, the upcoming elections dominated the entire political activity of the Alliance.

The Alliance’s initial strategy was to ensure that the opposition’s candidate would not be "too" right-wing, especially since the Presidential elections would ultimately be between two candidates and would actually be a sort of referendum. Because, the internal debate of the "Nation Alliance", which consists of main opposition party social-liberal CHP and various right-wing alliance elements, was actually to put forward a nationalist, statist candidate under the name of "candidate who could win” and in the end for Kurdish movement this would mean a candidate which would change nothing.

In the end, in order not to be have to support a slightly less right-wing candidate against Erdoğan in the second round, Alliance stated that instead of nominating candidates themselves in the Presidential elections, they could support Nationa Alliance in the first round if they nominate the current leader of the CHP, Kılıçdaroğlu. They aimed to create pressure during the selection process of the candidate. This strategy partially worked and although the dominant tendency was to nominate a right-wing candidate from within the CHP, the appeal of winning the Kurdish movement’s support of around 10 percent in the first round also affected the CHP’s nomination process.

But of course, in this case, it was not possible for the socialists and the Kurdish movement to nominate candidates in the presidential election and make their own propaganda. However, the situation is different for the parliamentary elections. The Labor and Freedom Alliance had to discuss its strategy for the parliamentary elections for a long time, and these discussions almost led to the end of the Alliance.

Turkey has a 7 percent threshold for representation in parliament, in which case minor parties or parties that only get regional votes are not able to be represented in the Parliament and this makes Alliances even more important because if you are in an Alliance, all the total votes in that Alliance will counted in the threshold calculation. For the Labor Freedom Alliance, this situation brought up two different tactics; 1. Parties within the Alliance participatin in the elections under the name of the Alliance with their own party names and lists, or 2. All components of the Alliance participating elections under a single party name and with a single list. The choice between these two tactics led to intense debates between supporters of TİP and HDP, the two major components of the Alliance, which led to intense discussion on social media which sometimes alost burning all the bridges.

Birthing Pains

The main expectation of the HDP, whose thousands of militants are in prison or in exile abroad, whose elected mayors have been removed from duty and trustees have been appointed, was that Erdogan would lose in the presidential election and the number of Labor Freedom Alliance deputies in the parliament would upset the balance between the other two parties. So that any party that would try to get something through the National Assembly would have to negotiate with the Labor and Freedom Alliance. For this reason, it aimed to get more deputies by entering from a single list instead of the all the Parties entering the elections under their own names.

The second major component of the Alliance, TİP, is a party in the building process, its membership has increased more than tenfold in the last year and has received significant attention from the opposition public, especially thanks to the radical outbursts of its spokespersons against AKP representatives. For TİP, they chose to enter the election under its own name, as this election would be their first election, it would be the opportunity to explain themselves and their program, and to compile and gather their own support.

Although, after the discussions, Party decided that TIP entered the election in the Alliance but with his own name and list, while other components of the Alliance entered the elections under the name of Green and Left Party, but in some cities where it was risky for Green and Left Party to get elected, TIP agreed to withdraw and support them.

However, about a week or two after this agreement, especially on social media and sometimes including party officials, skirmishes began. While Green and Left Party said that this election tactic would cause them to lose their deputies, TIP announced that it wouldn’t, and they had withdrawn by mutual agreement in cities that may already be risky.

But the real reasons for the debate go back a little, there had been no effort to build an independent mass socialist political party in Turkey for many years, and TIP was running for the first time in many years without breaking the alliance and solidarity with the Kurdish Movement, but with its own independent program. As a result of the election, for the first time since the 1960s, a socialist party won 1 million votes and 1.7 percent (although it did not enter the elections in many cities) and brought the number of its members to 50 thousand, making a significant contribution towards building a mass socialist party. Therefore, we can actually call these discussions the “birthing pains” of a new socialist center which is in solidarity with the Kurdish movement but with its own independent program. Of course, the wobbles that this new party may experience and other problems in the political line it will follow will be the subject of future struggles within the party.


If you like this article or have found it useful, please consider donating towards the work of International Viewpoint. Simply follow this link: Donate then enter an amount of your choice. One-off donations are very welcome. But regular donations by standing order are also vital to our continuing functioning. See the last paragraph of this article for our bank account details and take out a standing order. Thanks.