CHP: Elections between democracy and one-man rule
Serkan Demirtaş - ANTALYA
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said at least 60 percent of Turkey will vote for democracy over 'dictatorship' in the 2019 presidential elections, saying that people have realized that Turkey’s fundamental problems in the economy, education and democratization further deepened under the new governance that has de facto been in place since last year’s referendum.
“It’s obvious that the new model failed to solve Turkey’s problems. Quite the contrary, the problems have worsened,” Kılıçdaroğlu told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview on April 15 in the southern province of Antalya.
His remarks came on the first anniversary of the April 16, 2017 referendum that replaced the parliamentary system with an executive-presidency model. The CHP leader calls it the de facto implementation of a “one-man regime” in Turkey, referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“At this stage, we observe only a small part of the problems. I am afraid these problems will further grow. The state bureaucracy can see this coming,” he said.
One of the key areas Kılıçdaroğlu cites is education. “Take education. This one man appeared on TV one night and declared that he does want a change in the transition system from primary to secondary education institutions. And he created a chaos for millions of parents who are now trying to find the best schools for their children,” he said.
Speaking about foreign policy, Kılıçdaroğlu stressed the Foreign Ministry has been sidelined and key foreign policy decision were being made by a few people at the presidency.
“The picture of the economy is disastrous,” he said. “Erdoğan says he will reduce interest rates but he cannot. Then he starts to complain about it. When he cannot find any other way, he starts to use the same rhetoric saying, ‘Foreigners are staging an economic war on us,’” the CHP leader said.
Democracy has long been suspended and there is no judicial independence and press freedom, Kılıçdaroğlu stressed, adding that the civil society and universities have also been put under pressure.
“Is it possible to attract foreign direct investment under these conditions? No. People hesitate to invest,” he said.
“All these problems, in fact, do affect each other, making solving them much more difficult. A problem in foreign policy affects the economy, and the state of democracy affects both of them. Therefore, there is a need of holistic approach to address these problems. But this government does not have the capacity,” he said.
State mechanisms can be used in efforts to resolve them because the government has de-activated bureaucratic institutions, Kılıçdaroğlu said, underlining that this problem is well observed by senior members within the state apparatus.
‘AKP voters favor an impartial president’
Many who voted in favor of constitutional amendments in last year’s referendum now regret because they realized a one-man regime has taken over, Kılıçdaroğlu said. “They are all now aware of where this one-man regime is dragging Turkey. Therefore, the upcoming polls will be a choice between the two Ds: Democracy and dictatorship. I say democracy will win by at least 60 percent,” he added.
Upon a question on what grounds he thinks they will win the polls by 60 percent, he said: “I believe a majority of the Turkish people, regardless of their political leanings, will prefer democracy. Everyone sees the picture of being under a one-man regime. At least 60 percent will vote for democracy.”
Some opinion polls suggest that a good portion of the AKP voters are also in favor of an impartial president, according to Kılıçdaroğlu.
“A sizeable number of AKP grassroots is also in discomfort about the developments in Turkey. We are hearing about some very harsh criticisms made within the AKP. But I am not sure whether these voices are heard at the presidency as well,” he said.
“Therefore, my call is for conservative democrats, nationalist democrats, liberal democrats, religious democrats, social democrats and socialist democrats. Prevailing democracy is a responsibility that falls on all ours shoulders,” he said.
Every attack prolongs Assad’s stay in power
Kılıçdaroğlu also shared his views about recent developments in the Middle East. A recent attack against the Syrian regime by world powers will only prolong President Bashar al-Assad’s stay in power, Kılıçdaroğlu said.
“Any attack carried out against Syria is strengthening Assad’s stay in power,” he stated, underlining the fact that no international organization has so far proven that these chemical weapons were used by Damascus.
Slamming Turkey’s foreign policy on Syria, Kılıçdaroğlu called on the Turkish government to concentrate more on the interests of regional countries instead of that of the Western powers.
“The problems of the Middle East could be addressed well by four countries: Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu also said the Turkish government faces difficulties on whose side it has to take in the region.
“They are sometimes very desperate. They take the side of the United States in the morning and then the Russian side in the afternoon,” he said.