The man who could save Turkish democracy

Der Spiegel reports: Everybody wants to catch a glimpse of Selahattin Demirtas, the man who will supposedly save Turkey from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Young students and men with grey beards stream into the lecture hall at Bogazici University in Istanbul. All of the seats are occupied; people are sitting on the floor and standing against the walls. Demirtas steps on to the stage, and when he sees people thronging at the entrance, he calls out: “Just come on the stage!”

The spectators cheer, and a few boisterous ones make a dash for Demirtas, who patiently poses for selfies. A young man presses a baby in his arm and takes a photo. The bodyguards watch in frustration, but Demirtas smiles.

The words “Büyük Insanlik,” meaning “great humanity,” are written on the screen behind him. It is the slogan of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), an alliance between the Democratic Regions Party (BDP) and Turkish left-wing groups that is led by Demirtas. He is Kurdish, 42 years old, a human right’s lawyer from Diyarbakir and a challenger to the president. By running for office, he is hoping to end the omnipotence of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

His success or failure could decide whether Turkey will finally become the land of Erdogan — or whether democracy still has a chance. [Continue reading…]

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