More than a seat: Co-Presidency-1

The co-presidential system, which is based on the equal representation of women and men against the monistic system, is spreading to all spheres of life under the leadership of Kurdish women.

The co-presidential system, which is based on the equal representation of women and men against the monistic system, is spreading to all spheres of life under the leadership of Kurdish women. In North and East Syria, the co-presidency system is used by communes, political parties, and every organization.


Kobanî - In some countries in the world, particularly in the Middle East, women are excluded from many fields such as political, social, economic, and cultural fields. Throughout history, women struggled and continue to struggle against the oppression and ignorance of the male-dominant system. The resistance of women in Turkey, where women are ignored, their rights are usurped, they are excluded from many areas of life, are murdered, subjected to violence, harassed, and raped, is significant. Kurdish women in particular are determined to protect their achievements despite the heavy costs they have paid. One of these achievements is the co-presidential system.

The system was first used in Turkey in 1995

The co-presidential system was used for the first time in the world in 1980 by the German Green Party. While this system inspired all political parties, the Democratic Society Party (DTP) began to use this system for the first time in Turkey in 2005, particularly used by municipalities. This system was later included in the party constitutions of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and Democratic Regions Party (DBP), it also began to be used by Kurdish municipalities and many non-governmental organizations. On September 20, 2004, Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan emphasized the importance of the correct implementation of the system in one of his speeches.

Women protect their achievements against oppression

State repression against the co-presidential system in Turkey has continued with political plots and arrests against the political parties using this system since 2014. The government arrests MPs, politicians, particularly women, of these parties at every opportunity. While equal representation and the struggle for the existence of women become the biggest fear of the government, Kurdish women keep struggling to protect their achievements.

Women say “We exist” in the co-presidential system

Sebahat Tuncel, one of the female political prisoners, made the following statements about the co-presidency in an interview: “When there are no women, unfortunately, decisions are taken against women and women’s issues are ignored. The co- presidential system practiced by us stops the current situation and shows how a free future will be for women. The biggest achievement of the co-presidential system is that women oppose the mentality that ignores women, exploits their labor, and wants to condemn them to a life of slavery with all kinds of violence and discrimination practices, saying 'We exist’ to ensure the strongest representation of women everywhere in order to make their labor and struggle visible. Its role in social change is unquestionable.”

Pervin Buldan: They attack the co-presidential system because…

Pervin Buldan, the former co-chair of the HDP, made a speech regarding the co-presidential system during a meeting held in Diyarbakır on November 19, 2020, and she said, “The co-presidential system is an achievement for women, as well as an achievement for equality, justice, democracy, and humanity. The male-dominant government and its representatives are aware of this fact, and while attacking women, they specifically target our co-presidential system. While they unlawfully arrest our elected co-chairs, they show this system as a crime in the country. Because they also know that; the achievements of the equality and democracy struggle will bring the end of their thousand-year-old male-dominant understanding and colonial practices of this understanding. They attack the co-presidential system because they see women as persons who must be deprived of rights and oppressed.”

It began to be practiced in Rojava

One of the places where the presidential system is practiced is North and East Syria. This system was first practiced by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM) in NE Syria. After the establishment of democratic self-government in 2014, this system began to be practiced by all institutions, organizations, communities.  While women have equal rights in politics, they play an important role in social change. In the North and East Syria-Rojava regions, the ecological and democratic society and the co-presidential system on the basis of women's freedom is accepted as an alternative to the nation-state system governed by “one president”, “one vision” and “one government”.

PYD breaks new ground in the Middle East

The Democratic Union Party (PYD) began to practice the co-presidential system and included it in its party constitution in 2003. Actually, the PYD is the first party and organization practicing this system in the Middle East. The Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM) began to practice this system after its foundation in 2010. After the revolution in Rojava started on July 19, 2012, the Democratic Autonomy was established. In the Self-Government system, the co-presidential system is practiced by all cantons, councils, municipalities, and assemblies. In 2015, the Syrian Democratic Council (MSD) was founded. The council practices the co-presidential system. In 2018, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria was established. The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria administers three regions and four civil administrations. The co-presidential system is practiced by all organizations and institutions in NE Syria.

PUK misunderstood the co-presidential system

Before 2015, the number of women participating in politics was low in the Federal Kurdistan Region. But after the establishment of the Kurdish Freedom Movement in the region in 2015, the co- presidential system began to be practiced in the region and it is still practiced. In 2019, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) began to practice this system. However, while a man and a woman were supposed to be chairs of the party, two men were elected as the co-chairs of the party. The co-presidential system has been practiced in Eastern Kurdistan for seven years.

The co-presidential system spreads

The Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) began to practice the co-presidential system in 2013. The Kurdistan National Congress (KNK), founded in 1999, began to practice the co-presidential system in 2013. The KNK called on 43 parties, associations, and non-governmental organizations under its umbrella to practice the co-presidential system. Upon its call, the European Kurdish Democratic Societies Congress (KCDK-E), the Federation of Yazidi Associations, and the Democratic Alevi Federation (FEDA) began to practice the system in Europe.