We will not make you the president, HDP co-chair tells Erdoğan
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will never be able to achieve his ambition of becoming president with superpowers, Selahattin Demirtaş, the co-leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said March 17, rejecting reports of any bargaining with the ruling party.
“I want to remind here our promise to the people not to abandon the principles of democracy, peace and freedom,” Demirtaş told his parliamentary group. “We are not a movement of bargaining, a party of bargaining. There has never been a dirty deal, between us and the [Justice and Development Party] AKP and there will never be,” Demirtaş said, in a veiled response to comments that the HDP would support the ruling party’s bid to instill a presidential system in exchange for a solution to the Kurdish problem.
In a swift response to Demirtaş, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu described the HDP co-leader’s statement as being disrespectful to democarcy while accusing him of aligning with coup plotters. “It is the Turkish people who will decide whether our president becomes the head of the nation,” he said.
“I will keep today’s parliamentary group very short. I will in fact express my message in just one sentence: Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, you will never be able to be the head of the nation as long as the HDP exists and as long as the HDP people are on this soil,” Selahattin Demirtaş, co-leader of the HDP, told his parliamentary group March 17. Demirtaş repeated, “We will not make you the president,” three times. Demirtaş also underlined his party is not there to negotiate peace with the government.
Minutes after Demirtaş’s statement, #SeniBaşkanYaptırmayacağız (We Will Not Make You The President) hit the worldwide trending topics list on Twitter on March 17.
This latter statement has been interpreted as meaning the HDP will not trade the Kurdish peace process for Erdoğan’s presidential system.
Demirtaş referred to Erdoğan’s plans to change the constitution to allow for the adoption of a presidential system which would give the president more power. Since he was elected president in August 2014, Erdoğan has complained about Turkey’s administrative system with a strong emphasis on leaving the current parliamentarian system behind and adopting a presidential system in order to reach the country’s goals for the year 2023. Erdoğan has frequently appealed to the public to pledge 400 lawmakers to the ruling party in the coming elections to make the constitutional amendment possible.
Demirtaş also had a message for the government during a short question-answer session after the group meeting. “The government should inject trust into the peace process. We are keeping silent for the sake of the process,” he said.
“We have never engaged in any dirty negotiation with the AKP and it will never happen,” added Demirtaş.
Demirtaş’ message came at a very critical phase of the Kurdish peace process, as there are growing expectation the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, will issue an important message for the disarmament of militants.