Magazine article New Internationalist

Selahattin Demirtas

Magazine article New Internationalist

Selahattin Demirtas

Article excerpt

Introducing...

Demirtas rose to prominence in Turkey's June elections. He led the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) into parliament for the first time, with 13 per cent of the vote and 79 MPs.

The telegenic young Kurdish politician is proving a breath of fresh air, combining a giftfor oratory with a cool-headed sense of strategy that have allowed him to move beyond his eastern Kurdish base and build support amongst secular Turks in the west of the country. His staunch commitment to human rights is proving popular with women and LGBT people.

Demirtas began his career as a lawyer, defending those who fell foul of the Turkish political establishment, particularly the increasingly autocratic Islamist president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It was Erdogan's link to corrupt practices and plans to centralize power under a boss-like executive presidency that helped fuel support for Demirtas, and the HDP's rise has put a stop to some of Erdogan's more outlandish ambitions. …

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