On November 20, the European Court of Human Rights announced its decision on the Selahattin Demirtaş application. The court decided that the rights of Demirtaş, co-president of the PDP and the party’s candidate for the presidency, to elect and be elected was violated by the Turkish authorities in continuous detention since November 4, 2016. This is the first time Turkey was condemned for violating the article 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights for the “limitations on use of restriction of rights.” It is also the first for the Court to implement article 18 together with article 5(3), regarding the “right to trial within a reasonable time or to be released pending trial.” However, the court declined the applicant’s other complaints (1) that his arrest does not rely on reasonable doubt and (2) that the defendant do not have access to the investigation file.
The court also pointed out to an “ulterior purpose” in detention of Demirtaş “of stifling pluralism and limiting the freedom of political debate.” The Court stated that the continuation of the detention would entail a prolongation of the violations and a breach of the obligations on Turkey, openly indicating that it is ruling for the immediate release of Selahattin Demirtaş from pre-trial detention. Accordingly the defence attorneys has submitted a legal petition for the release to the Ankara Heavy Penal Court.
President Erdoğan’s response to the ruling was rather usual: “We are not obligated to abide by the ECHR rulings. Up until today many rulings regarding the (PKK) organization have all been against Turkey. We have a lot to do in response. We counter act and do the job. The terror is going on.” The jurists argue that the fact that a Turkish appeal court has started examining the Demirtaş’s application of appeal regarding a past decision of four years and eight months of imprisonment just a day before the ECHR’s decision, is actually the counter act the president has mentioned. In case the decision were approved, considering 24 months in detention, Demirtaş will still face a one and half year imprisonment.
The political parties’ preparations for the local elections took pace. Hence the week was marked with the news on the alliance strategies among political parties for the March local elections. The opposition parties, RPP, GP (Good Party) and the FP (Felicity Party) have openly declared alliance. PDP on the other hand, signals inexplicit support to the alliance with its voter base at the Western metropolitan cities. The GP announced that they had agreed upon limited alliance for the metropolitan municipalities with the RPP for mutual candidates. Temel Karamollaoğlu has also stated openly that the FP is ready for entering the alliance. Karamollaoğlu will be meeting with RPP’s leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu this week.
On the RPP’s front, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has met with Muharrem İnce, the latest RPP candidate for presidency, for a possible nomination of İnce for İstanbul for the coming the municipality elections. The meeting lasted for forty minutes and the reports indicate that İnce asked for a party organizational survey of tendency as a condition for his nomination. Kılıçdaroğlu did not give an explicit reply but told he would consult with the provincial party organizations. The rumors point out to Mansur Yavaş as the RPP and GP’s mutual candidate for Ankara. Yavaş had entered the same race for RPP in 2014 and lost with a narrow margin to the JDP’s candidate, İ. Melih Gökçek, who later on was forced to resign by his own party’s leadership withinin a reformation attempt within party cadres.
President Erdoğan as the leader of the the ruling JDP, on the other hand, announced the candidates of the party for 40 municipalities, 14 of which are for the metropolitan cities. Among the them, the most spoken names were Cumali Atila for Diyarbakır, who had been appointed as the trustee in place of the removed elected mayor from the PDP; Mustafa Demir for Samsun, Hilmi Güler for Ordu, Faruk Özlü for Düzce, all three ex ministers; Burhanettin Uysal for Karabük, ex MP. There are also a number of bureaucrats among the candidates. The opposition is arguing that the JDP is reshuffling its cadres which is getting narrower and narrower. This remark seems to be proved by the potential candidates named for Ankara and İstanbul too. Mehmet Özhaseki’s name is mentioned for Ankara. Özhaseki had been elected as the mayor of Kayseri for five consecutive terms since 1998. For İstanbul the expectations point to the current Parliamentary Speaker and the former and the last prime minister Binali Yıldırım.
The alarming survey results for the elections that show a considerable decrease in the ruling JDP and NAP’s votes as well as the developments in the opposition camp for cooperation seems to force both the JDP and the NAP reconsider alliance for the elections although the leader of the NAP, Devlet Bahçeli has announced they stopped collaborating for the March elections the previous week. Both president Erdoğan and Bahçeli eagerly resumed talks on cooperation. Later in the week Bahçeli announced that they will not nominate candidates for Ankara and İstanbul, signaling the party members and the voters that NAP will be supporting the ruling JDP in their election efforts in metropolitan cities.
Just before the week ended, on November 25, Russia stroke Idlib, a region that had been announced as a de-conflict zone with Turkey’s efforts and Russia’s unwilling concession within the regional and international balances. The region is the last urbanized sanctuary in Syria for the extremist opposition against the government as well as Islamic terrorist groups. The Russian strike came after some groups in Idlip were alleged to target Aleppo with chemical weapons.