Break up in YSGP: Many members including Greens and green feminists left the Green-Left Party

Growing tension and differences within the Greens and Left for the Future Party (YSGP, or Green-Left Party) resulted in a break up on the 27th of March, 2016. 105 members of the Green Politics Platform that was founded within the party, declared their resignation.

YSGPA considerable part among those who resigned were coming from the Greens Party, one of the two constituent movements of the YSGP which was founded after a merger in 2012. Also, green feminists and some members who were formerly with the other constituent movement, the Party for Equality and Democracy (EDP) resigned.

Sevil Turan, who was one of the co-spokespersons since the founding of the party until the last congress in early April, and who was also the last co-spokesperson of the former Greens Party is among those who resigned. Some other prominent names who resigned are following:

Yüksel Selek, Bilge Oykut (Contepe) and Ümit Şahin, all former co-spokespersons of the former Greens Party; Ahmet Atıl Aşıcı, Ayla Şeşan, Cihat Demirtaş, Mahmut Boynudelik and Vezan Karabulut who were members of the previous Executive Committee of YSGP; Ali Serdar Gültekin, Ayla Tokmak, Ayşe Akdeniz, Bahar Topçu, Celal Ay, Ercüment Gürçay, Feyha Karslı, Gizem Kastamonulu, Hasan Hüseyin Küçükaydın, Koray Doğan Urbarlı, Murat Özbank, Nil Mutluer, Pelin Cengiz and Ümide Aysu, who were members of the previous Party Council; Bursa co-spokesperson Necla Türemen; former İstanbul co-spokespersons İnci İşbulur and Savaş Çömlek; former Ankara co-spokespersons Hande Urbarlı and Gülnur Öztaş.

The mass resignation follows the Second Party Congress that was held on April 2nd, 2016. It is reported that the total number of members who left the party add up to more than 120 including some recent individual resignations.

Reasons behind the break up

The political motives that set off the resignations are described as such in the recent declaration of the Green Politics Platform, published after the last congress, in a nutshell:

  • The party was unable to realise the brand of politics that new left ideas would necessitate, that would meet the need for rejuvenation in the left, which was a premise all members share.
  • Principles such as the equal participation of women to politics and women’s decision making for the policies regarding women could not be realised. A series of negativities happened including but not limited to the dominance of a male language and the exclusion of women. Principles such as at least one of the co-spokespersons being a woman at all levels, affirmative action and equal representation of women in executive committees were all dislodged by old renown methods of organisation. The equal participation of women was not deemed as important. Rather than horizontal relationships, vertical ones were established. A participatory and deliberative organisational structure was precluded. Political manners, a disrespectful masculine language in the discussion groups turned into the general way of party life. This state of affairs pushed many members away from the party, chief among them, women, and let them resent and distance themselves outside the party.
  • The goals such as widening the base of green politics and growing the green movement in Turkey, and creating a party that can participate in the elections could not be realised. The Green side of the party politics was seen, at most, as an “issue”; those who emphasized green politics were seen as a “color” or even a “facade” of the party. Environmental issues, global climate change, energy policy, local movements for commons, green economics and the development of alternative policies regarding all these topics could not become the fundamental political field of YSGP. The understanding that green politics only addresses the environment and ecology was never given up. That green politics, while the human-nature relationship is at its core, is a political philosophy in its own right, one that equally puts front and centre nonviolence, decentralization, non-hierarchical relationships, idea of a global movement, direct democracy, and struggle against all form of discrimination was ignored. Thus, green politics as such could not be placed at the centre of the party outlook.

Criticism regarding the party’s relationship with the HDP

The Green Politics Platform also poses the critique regarding the harsh dismissal of criticism and proposals they put forward regarding YSGP’s relationship with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the coalition party for left, Kurdish and other minority political movements, of which YSGP is a constituent. The Green Politics Platform, underline that they deem YSGP’s contribution to the HDP important, that they think HDP is the greatest chance we have for a solution based on democratic politics for the Kurdish issue, that many Platform members were either organisers or activists in HDP’s election campaign, and some were candidates for office.

In its declaration, the Platform states that while not having an objection to YSGP staying as a constituent party to HDP, they see as crucial that the relationship between the two parties needs to be settled on an official basis of by-laws and accountability, and that this needs to be discussed and adopted by the highest party organ for YSGP, the party congress. To these ends, the Green Politics Platform submitted a proposal in the 2nd of April Party Conference and asked that official and regular relationship at the level of executive committees be started between the YSGP and HDP, that the same person should not be in the executive bodies of both parties (acting as an unofficial advisor in one), the representatives of the YSGP in HDP organs being elected by YSGP members, and the relationship between the two parties should be auditable and accountable to committees other than the party executive and representatives. The proposal was rejected.

In its declaration, the Platform states its proposals, drowned in procedural discussions and their content misrepresented, were not discussed. Writing that an opportunity for the party to overcome the impasse at which it finds itself was squandered, the Platform criticises this state.

“We had not intended to do politics under such circumstances”

In the declaration of the Green Politics Platform, members write, “All of us have experienced, up until today and in various ways, that we did not have enough power to change the political line the party adopted. As a result, some of us distanced from party politics and concentrated on civil society, some of us insisted with resolve on trying to transform YSGP into the party we aspire. Yet, when initially deciding on doing politics in YSGP, none of us intended to do politics under such circumstances”.

There are still members of the Platform who maintain their party membership, yet following the mass resignation, sources indicate the Platform will emphasise on politics outside of the party and with closer ties with the green movement in general.

Break up three and a half years after the merger

The Greens and Left for the Future Party was founded on the 25th of November 2012, when the Greens Party and the EDP united, with formerly independent members joining during the process.

With the latest wave of break up, most of the names that came from the Greens Party and the green feminists group have left the party.

The acronym YSGP was changed to Green-Left Party in the April 2nd Congress, and Naci Sönmez (2nd term) and Eylem Tuncaelli were elected as co-spokespersons. As some names among the Green Politics Platform were among those elected to the current Party Council, the council is expected to continue its term with less then full membership.

(Yeşil Gazete)