Democratic Society Party

Democratic Society Party
Kurdish: Partiya Civaka Demokratîk
Turkish: Demokratik Toplum Partisi
Leader Ahmet Türk, Emine Ayna, Aysel Tuğluk, Nurettin Demirtaş
Founded August 17, 2005 (2005-08-17)
Dissolved December 12, 2009 (2009-12-12)
Merger of Democratic People's Party
Democratic Society Movement
Preceded by Democratic People's Party
Succeeded by Peace and Democracy Party
Headquarters Barış Manço Cad. 32. Sk. No:37, Balgat – Ankara, Turkey
Ideology Social democracy,
Kurdish nationalism,
Left-wing nationalism
Political position Centre-left
European affiliation Party of European Socialists (associate member)
International affiliation Socialist International (observer member)
Colors Red, Green and Yellow
Website (domain name deleted by ".tr" Domain Name Administration after the dissolution;[1] webarchive)

The Democratic Society Party (Turkish: Demokratik Toplum Partisi, DTP, Kurdish: Partiya Civaka Demokratîk, PCD) was a Kurdish nationalist[2][3] political party in Turkey. The party considered itself social democratic, and had observer status in the Socialist International. It was considered to be the successor of the Democratic People's Party (DEHAP). On December 11, 2009, the Constitutional Court of Turkey banned the DTP, ruling that the party has become "focal point of activities against the indivisible unity of the state, the country and the nation". The ban has been widely criticized both by groups within Turkey and by several international organizations. The party was succeeded by the Peace and Democracy Party.


The party was founded in 2005, as the merger of the DEHAP and the Democratic Society Movement (DTH). DTH was set up by the veteran Kurdish politicians, former deputies Leyla Zana, Orhan Doğan, Hatip Dicle and Selim Sadak upon their release from prison in 2004. The latest leader of the DTP was Ahmet Türk.[4] Ahmet Türk co-chaired the party with Aysel Tuğluk until 9 November 2007 when they were replaced by Nurettin Demirtaş and Emine Ayna.[5][6] However, Nurettin Demirtaş was imprisoned the following month because of a fake health report that enabled him to avoid military service.[7] In May 2008 Nurettin Demirtaş was forced to resign after being released from prison and conscripted into the Turkish Army.[8] Emine Ayna, MP for Mardin, was elected leader of the DTP in his place.[5][9] Later in May, Ayna also became Chair of the DTP Parliamentary Group, when Ahmet Türk resigned.[5] However, in July 2008 Ahmet Türk became, once again, chairman of the DTP.[10]

PKK connections & disbanding

Connection with the PKK

Since its inception, the party and its leaders have faced legal problems with the Turkish government since some critics suspect the party of having ties to Kurdish separatist movements and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an armed militant organization recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the United States.[11]

It was also criticized by observers for not distancing itself from PKK's armed actions to confirm its refutations of its claimed links with the PKK.[12] As of June 2007 report by the European Union Institute for Security Studies stated that "It is an obvious secret that DTP is connected to PKK in a way and PKK is a terrorist group."[13]

Fatma Kurtulan, whose husband is an active PKK member, is one of the MPs of the Democratic Society Party.[14][15]

In October 2007, in a meeting of the ambassadors of the EU countries and the U.S. to Turkey, it was reported that the diplomats pressured the DTP to denounce the PKK as terrorist,[16][17] following a DTP-sponsored conference, whose final declaration called the jailed PKK leader, Abdullah Öcalan, a "leader of the Kurdish people" and called for his release.[18][19]

Leyla Zana, a leading figure in the party recently made the statement: "in '99, our leader Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the PKK was in İmralı" which led the crowd to chant "Long Live Apo" (Kurdish: Bijî Serok Apo) the nickname of Öcalan.[20] A judicial investigation was initiated over her remarks.[21]

2009 Disbanding

On December 11, 2009, the Constitutional Court of Turkey voted to ban the DTP, ruling that the party has become the "focal point of activities against the indivisible unity of the state, the country and the nation" as the party has an organic connection to the PKK.[22][23] The Court declared that DTP violated Articles 68 and 69 of the Constitution and the Political Parties Law.[24] "The party became a focal point for terrorism against the indivisible integrity of the state.", stated Haşim Kılıç, president of the Court.[24] Chairman Ahmet Turk and legislator Aysel Tugluk were expelled from Parliament, and they and 35 other party members were banned from joining any political party for five years.[25]

These party members include: Ahmet Türk, Leyla Zana, Aysel Tuğluk, Hüseyin Kalkan, Nurettin Demirtaş, Orhan Miroğlu.

Later the same day, the Presidency of the European Union released a statement, expressing concern over the Turkish court ruling, and calling upon Turkey to reform its legislation on political parties.[26]

The decision of the Constitutional Court sparked reaction among AK Party parliamentarians. Mir Dengir Mehmet Fırat said: "Turkey has become a graveyard for political parties that have been shut down. Closing political parties does not bring any benefit to Turkey. The Constitutional Court in its decision drew a parallel to the case of Batasuna in Spain, but in my opinion, that example does not really apply."[23]

Massoud Barzani, president of Iraqi Kurdistan stated "The president's office expresses its anger at the Turkish constitutional court's outlawing of the Democratic Society Party (DTP)," as hundreds of protesters gathered in Erbil, Iraq.

Most of the MPs who had been in the DTP decided to join the recently formed Peace and Democracy Party.

Major protests were held in Turkey against the party's ban.

Pre-legislative period

On 30 July 2007, the members of the DTP as a group declared in their deputy information that "Turkish is their second language."[27] The parliament stopped the dissemination of information regarding the deputies, until the situation cleared up. The Ankara politics tried to find out the answers regarding these new members ability to follow the legislation sessions, such that 16 years ago same issue happened with Leyla Zana who said that Turkish was her second language and used the Kurdish for the parliamentary oath. In 1991, the script of the parliamentary oath included words such that "I would hold my nation high." Some members of the public questioned Leyla Zana on the grounds of which nation she had sworn to "hold high". Chairwoman Aysel Tuğluk made a statement to the press on Sunday in which she asserted, "We are here to serve our country."[28]

Legislative period

On November 5, 2007, inclusion of the demand for autonomy in the six Kurdish provinces in the party program. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is accused of heading down a dead-end street by attempting to show Kurdish people as a minority group [autonomy of Kurdish provinces] in Turkey which DTP claimed located in that region.[29]

On November 11, 2007, leader Nurettin Demirtaş called on political party leaders to convene a "democracy summit". Demirtaş noted his party has the will and initiative to stop bloodshed in the country. They acted as an intermediary in the release of the eight abducted soldiers.[30] DTP members have come under intense criticism after some party members shook hands [sign of solidarity] with PKK leaders when they went to northern Iraq to mediate for the release of abducted Turkish soldiers. The DTP members did not sing Turkey's national anthem during the opening of a party conference.[29]

The Democratic Society Party claimed that the 10% threshold of the national vote required in order to be represented in the Grand Assembly was aimed at disqualifying it from the parliament. However, many other parties failed to cross this threshold in the 2002 election. The Democratic Society Party decided to have its candidates run as Independents. On 13 May DTP announced that if they wanted to, they could lock up the elections by putting in five to ten thousand independent candidates.[31] The next day in a statement, the Supreme Election Committee (Turkish: Yüksek Seçim Kurulu (YSK)) responded to DTP's threat by stating that there was no issue and that they would simply use "larger envelopes".[32]

20 DTP affiliates running as independents were elected to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey:

İstanbul deputy, Sebahat Tuncel, was under arrest when elected and being tried on charges of being a member of the PKK.[33]

Hamit Geylani could not join the DTP parliamentarian group due to a former verdict of the Constitutional Court.[34] Akın Birdal joined DTP to enable the party reach the 20 deputy threshold to form a group.[35]

Eight of the newly elected deputies from the party are women. The female deputies (including İstanbul deputy Sebahat Tuncel) are:

Name Province
Aysel Tuğluk Diyarbakır
Gültan Kışanak Diyarbakır
Emine Ayna Mardin
Sevahir Bayındır Şırnak
Fatma Kurtulan Van
Pervin Buldan Iğdır
Ayla Akat Ata Batman
Sebahat Tuncel İstanbul

2009 local elections

DTP currently has mayors in nine provincial capitals:

Diyarbakır (metropolitan municipality) 65.58%
Batman 65.43%
Hakkâri 78.97%
Iğdır 39.62%
Siirt 49.43%
Şırnak 53.75%
Tunceli 30.00%
Bingol 34.28%
Van 53.54%

At the time of 2009 local elections, DTP had mayors in 54 municipalities:[36]

Province# With Mayors
Diyarbakır Province12 of 32 including Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality, the districts of Bismil, Dicle, Ergani, Kocaköy, Lice, Silvan (six districts out of thirteen) and other minor municipalities.
Mardin Province 8 of 32 including Dargeçit, Derik, Kızıltepe, Mazıdağı, Nusaybin among the nine districts of the province
Batman Province 5 of 12 including Batman city, the districts of Beşiri and Gercüş (two districts out of five) and two minor municipalities.
Şırnak Province 5 of 20 including Şırnak city and the districts of Beytüşşebap, Cizre, İdil, Silopi, among the seven of the province.
Muş Province4 of 28 including Bulanık, Malazgirt and Varto among the nine districts of the province.
Hakkâri Province 4 of 8including Hakkâri city, two districts out of three (Yüksekova and Şemdinli), and one minor municipality.
Şanlıurfa Province 4 of 26 including Ceylanpınar, Suruç, Viranşehir districts.
Siirt Province2 of 13 including Kurtalan district.
Adana Province 2 of 53 two minor municipalities in Seyhan and Yüreğir districts.
Tunceli Province 1 of 10 (Tunceli city).
Ağrı Province 1 of 12 notable district of Doğubeyazıt.

One minor municipality in each of the provinces of Adıyaman, Aydın, Iğdır, Kars, Konya and Van. 43 of them in seven provinces in Southeastern Turkey densely inhabited by Kurds, including the mainly Kurdish inhabited city of Diyarbakır, where the DTP mayor is Osman Baydemir. The party originally had five municipalities in Muş. Orhan Özer, the mayor of the minor municipality Rüstemgedik was expelled in May 2007 for practicing polygamy.[37]

In this election on 29 March 2009, Democratic Society Party obtained the following votes in these provinces: Erzincan(0,53%), Erzurum (1,24%), Kars (14,66%), Malatya (0,06%), Tunceli (30%), Elazığ (2,51%), Bingöl (33,79%), Muş (37,23%), Ağrı (32,37%), Adıyaman (5,59%), Diyarbakır (65,27%), Siirt (49,43%), Bitlis (34,43%), Van (53,54%), Şanlıurfa (10,49%), Mardin (36,32%) and Hakkâri or Çolamerik (78,97%).[38]


  1. deleted
  2. Constantine Arvanitopoulos, Turkey's Accession to the European Union: An Unusual candidacy, Springer, 2009, ISBN 978-3-540-88196-4, p. 61.
  3. William M. Hale, Ergun Özbudun, Islamism, Democracy and Liberalism in Turkey: The Case of the AKP, Taylor & Francis, 2009, ISBN 978-0-415-48470-1, p. 77.
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  31. Karabat, Ayse (2007-07-25). "They made it to Parliament but tough job awaits DTP's women". Today's Zaman. Retrieved 2008-08-28.
  32. Bağımsız 20 vekil DTP'ye geçti (Turkish)
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  36. Retrieved September 2010
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