550 ex-lawmakers, including former leaders, to launch ‘No’ campaign
Bülent SARIOĞLU - ANKARASome 550 former members of parliament, who served in 16 different political parties including the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), have launched a “No” campaign ahead of the April 16 referendum on whether to shift Turkey to an executive presidential system.
Led by four former parliament speakers - Hüsamettin Cindoruk, Kaya Erdem, Hikmet Çetin and Ömer İzgi - and consisting of former MPs, senators, deputy prime ministers, ministers and party leaders, the group will launch its campaign in the coming days through a press conference.
Cindoruk, as the oldest member of the group, will act as the spokesperson of the initiative, former MP Gönül Saray told daily Hürriyet on April 6.
“[Former parliament speakers] are leading the initiative to protect parliament because they are formerly speakers of parliament,” Cindoruk said.
The initiative, under the title “550 Deputies,” posted its first messages on social media, where a number of them published campaign messages with one-minute videos.
“Not standing aside while parliament - which is the greatest power of the democratic parliamentary system – is made dysfunctional is a requirement of the oath we have taken. If ‘Yes’ vote wins, our country will be dragged into a fight for survival. For the first time in the history of the Republic, we are presenting this initiative of many different lawmakers to the discretion to our public. There is benevolence in ‘No,’” the first statement read.
Former AKP minister says ‘No’
The politicians who have been at the post of ministry have posted the first messages from a special “550 Deputies” Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/550millet
“The economy has started to deteriorate in recent years as all authority has begun to be gathered in the hand of one person in Turkey. I say ‘No’ to this trajectory,” said Abdullatif Şener, who previously served as a deputy prime minister under the AKP.
“If all authority is given to one person after April 16, Turkey will become alone in the world, the economy will collapse, crisis will deepen, factories and workplaces will close. There will be total destruction,” Şener added.
‘Maintain the free democratic regime’
“The main purpose of the constitutional amendment is to surrender the state to one man. The head of a party cannot also be the head of the legislative, executive, judicial and military branches. A party state must not be established. There must not be an unsupervised administration,” said Sadi Somuncuoğlu, a former minister from the MHP.
“Autonomy, federation and division are unacceptable. Let’s say ‘No’ to maintain the free democratic regime, the national unitary state we established in 1923, and our parliament which represents the Turkish nation,” Somuncuoğlu added.
Former ministers post messages
Yaşar Okuyan, one of the prominent ministers of the Motherland Party (ANAP) from the 1990s, also posted a message stating that “the amendment will bring a catastrophe to the country.”
Namık Kemal Zeybek, a former Democrat Party (DP) leader and former minister also contributed to the campaign, saying the referendum is “actually a vote on [citizens’] rights.”
“Giving our nation’s authority to rule itself to just one person is an imperialist trap. In recent history, such authority was given to Adolph Hitler in 1933. That’s why we say ‘No,’” Zeybek said.
Ufuk Söylemez, a former minister of True Path Party (DYP), underlined the economic aspect of the vote.
“I say ‘no’ to the economic system where almost one in two houses are in debt. I say no to the ground rent, to using the world’s most expensive gasoline, and to an understanding that imports even hay,” Söylemez said.