Movement for a Democratic Society

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

The Movement for a Democratic Society (Kurdish: Tevgera Civaka Demokratîk, TEV-DEM,[1] Arabic: حركة المجتمع الديمقراطي) is the polyethnic and politically progressive coalition governing the democratic confederalist autonomous areas of northern Syria referred to collectively as Rojava, or since late 2015 as the Federation of Northern Syria - Rojava. The leading party in the coalition is the Democratic Union Party (PYD). TEV-DEM replaced the Kurdish Supreme Committee as the governing coalition in the de facto autonomous Rojava region.

Background in the Arab Spring

As the Arab Spring reached Syria in early 2011 protests spread to the Kurdish areas of the north (the regions of Cizîrê, Kobanê, and Efrîn). They were "very strong and effective" in these areas and, to a certain point, this is what led the Syrian army to withdraw almost completely from these Kurdish areas. The citizens living there, with the support of the PYD, formed the Tevgera Civaka Demokratîk (or Tev-Dem), which "quickly became very strong and popular among the region’s population". To avoid chaos, the Tev-Dem stepped in "to implement its plans and programs without further delay before the situation became worse".[2]

Moving towards democratic autonomy

Its programme immediately aimed to be "very inclusive" and people from a range of different backgrounds became involved (including Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, and Turkmen (from Muslim, Christian, and Yazidi religious groups). It sought to "establish a variety of groups, committees and communes on the streets in neighborhoods, villages, counties and small and big towns everywhere". The purpose of these groups was to meet "every week to talk about the problems people face where they live". The representatives of the different community groups meet "in the main group in the villages or towns called the “House of the People”".

According to Zaher Baher of the Haringey Solidarity Group, the TEV-DEM has been "the most successful organ" in Rojava because it has the "determination and power" to change things, it includes many people who "believe in working voluntarily at all levels of service to make the event/experiment successful", and it has "set up an army of defence consisting of three different parts" - the YPG, the YPJ, the Asayish (a "mixed force of men and women that exists in the towns and all the checkpoints outside the towns to protect civilians from any external threat"), and "a special unit for women only, to deal with issues of rape and domestic violence".[2]

The Syrian Democratic Council served as somewhat of a preparation towards establishing the new Rojava government.

List of constituent parties

Name Leader
Democratic Union Party (PYD) Salih Muslim & Asya Abdullah
Syriac Union Party (SUP) Ishow Gowriye
Syrian Kurds' Democratic Peace Party (PADKS) Telal Mihemed
Kurdistan Liberal Union Party (PYLK) Ferhad Têlo
Libertarian Communist Party of Kurdistan ?
Kombuna Niştimanî Kurdistanî (KNK) ?

Executive Committee members


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