MP Çiçek reflects about the current restructuring phase of the Green Left Party and the HDP

MP Cengiz Çiçek spoke about the results of the popular assemblies and the forthcoming restructuring phase of the HDP and Green Left Party.

The process of criticism and self-criticism within the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and the Green Left Party after the election victory of the AKP-MHP regime last May continues. Although the democratic opposition had done well despite fraud and manipulation by Erdoğan's camp in Kurdistan, it fell short of expectations overall. In recent months, numerous people meetings have taken place, to collect the criticism, opinions and suggestions of the voters. Now consequences are being drawn. Speaking to ANF, Green Party Left Istanbul MP and co-spokesman for the HDK (Democratic Congress of Peoples), Cengiz Çiçek, pointed out that a significant criticism of the HDP concerns its development into a middle-class party.

"In fact, this criticism was not voiced for the first time, and it did not only come from the population," explained Çiçek. "There have been perceptions and discussions in this direction within our organized structures for some time. However, relative electoral success prevented these discussions from deepening and criticism from becoming visible. We reject this focus on election results. Election results are definitely not the only yardstick for the struggle. We will derive our next steps from this criticism."

"The process of criticism and self-criticism paves the way for us and gives us strength"

Çiçek underlined that the people themselves have made immense sacrifices and that the people themselves are political subjects. The demands of the people are clear. "It is a fact that we have long had difficulties in establishing direct relationships with our people. Public assemblies are extremely important in this process, especially in view of the principles on which the new phase of the struggle will be built. The popular assemblies and discussions are practical criticism of the previous phase. If we take this attitude as a basis and stick to it, it will make a historical contribution to our struggle in the medium and long term."

“People have made enormous sacrifices and have become political actors themselves”

Referring to the tragic death of two Peace Mothers who recently died in a traffic accident on their way back from interrogation in Yüksekova, Çiçek said: "The reality of people in our country is just as painful as those of the Peace Mothers who recently died in a traffic accident. People have an enormous responsibility. They have made great sacrifices and have become political actors themselves. What they expect from their party is matching behavior. While the people cling to the rightness and legitimacy of our struggle, they criticize the state of alienation from its reality. The core of the criticism is directed at the understanding and approach of 'sociality without community'. There is a serious criticism of the way we have organized the electoral process and our decisions, but it is not limited to that. Above all, the criticism also concerns our shortcomings in relation to the moral and political values of the Kurdish people, especially with regard to the total isolation of Abdullah Öcalan. People have made suggestions as to how we can get out of this situation."

"Criticisms are now implemented in the congress phase"

Çiçek emphasized that the criticisms would now be implemented in the congresses after the phase of the popular assemblies. He reported on the developments in the HDP and the Green Left Party, but also criticized the fact that certain problems persisted. "We are currently in the congress phase. We want all the forces that make up the party, give it character and support it, to participate in this congress process and organize themselves in it. We are aware that a healthy and consistent process of self-criticism after the elections will only be possible in this way. Even if there are still some problem areas - which is quite normal - we can say without a doubt that we are experiencing one of the most democratic and qualified congress processes. Even if this process is not free from weaknesses, it shows the determination to overcome the deficits identified."

"Poor implementation of participation led to elitism and bureaucratization"

According to Çiçek, an important point of the criticism was the inadequate implementation of participation rights in the party. "The criticisms come not only from the population, but also from our committees and from the workers of the party. First of all, we as members and individuals have an obligation to collectively define this rule and determine its practical implementation. As mentioned, while we have had a very productive discussion process, that does not mean that we agree on all issues. But our common understanding is growing compared to the past. In addition, we can no longer avoid criticizing an understanding that is limited to the participation of social components or individuals from the party; instead, a right to the participation of peoples and social subjects must be created."

"It's about how we can develop resistance"

Çiçek continued: "This previous way of implementation led to the often criticized alienation, elitism, bureaucracy and arrest in representative politics. At present, the right to participate means forming an alliance of social struggles and enforcing their demands. For this reason, the criticism should not be understood as a criticism of our strategic battle line, the alliance policy, but as a criticism of its practical inadequacies. Besides, nobody thinks that we shouldn't form an alliance against the system, that we shouldn't wage a common struggle, and nobody ignores the sacrifices that each organization as well as individuals are making in this struggle. The minimum to do justice to this is to create a collective among us to defend and develop the political and social positions and values that we have acquired over the years. In this context, the question for us is not whether we resist or not, but how we can develop the resistance."

Çiçek also responded to the criticism that the Green Left Party had not advertised itself sufficiently, saying that "there are two reasons why the Green Left Party was not sufficiently publicized during the electoral process. The first is that the election campaign had to be conducted in a very short period of time. If any other party had run for elections for the first time in such a short time, it would be questionable whether they could have received so many votes at all. This is also a positive point, showing the degree of development of our people's political consciousness. Of course, this is not a new finding for us. However, it is worth recalling this in this grim environment. The second reason is that the lack of publicity shows an organizational weakness. We self-criticize that we did not face this organizational reality, which has long been shrinking and weakening under the influence of objective and subjective conditions. We cannot withdraw from this self-criticism using the argument of repression and persecution. Because we must not forget that a state of emergency is our normal state. Therefore, we have no choice but to remain an organization strong in its ideological, political and social values under all circumstances."

"Relative success in the elections has prevented criticism from taking hold"

Çiçek also commented on the criticism of the HDP's development into a "middle-class party". He said: "Indeed, this criticism was not voiced for the first time and it was not limited to people. Within our organized structures there have been discussions and criticisms along these lines for a long time. The relative electoral successes prevented these discussions from deepening and criticism from becoming visible. From this point of view, we criticize the fact that election results are almost the only criterion of the struggle. For the rest, it is not about ignoring the electoral processes or regarding them as unimportant. If the electoral successes mask our organizational reality and the problems of the struggle, then we are making a serious mistake and an ideological aberration. With the HDP's victory in the elections on 7 June 2015, the balance between elections and social struggle began to go in favor of elections. However, elections should not be viewed as a process of struggle in itself, but as a stop on the road to democratic revolutionary struggle."

"The victory will be a victory of revolutionary politics"

Çiçek continued: "The narrowing of the social struggle to electoral processes also prevented us from taking timely measures against the development of fascism. As this misguided state persisted for a long time, instead of a revolutionary, democratic, legitimate understanding of struggle, a perspective narrowed to the areas in which the system imprisoned us emerged. What was the result? While the system attacked us from all sides, unloading its ideological and coercive apparatus on us in every conceivable way, the way out was seen in a "superb performance" by our parliamentary group and the party leadership. On the contrary, an organized, resistant and popular reality was not considered necessary, it was almost not on our agenda. The fact that the role of the HDK, which is often criticized today, has been downplayed and de facto overridden, is also related to this attitude and culture of struggle inherent in the system. Therefore, we must offer a factual critique of our recent history. We must remove the distortion of electoral success, which distracts us from the tasks of the struggle and the organizational character that builds on it.

The final victory will be the victory of revolutionary politics. The victory lies in the slogan 'elections are one thing, but not everything'."