CHP accuses PM of limiting democracy

CHP accuses PM of limiting democracy

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
CHP accuses PM of limiting democracy

‘If a premier complains about the separation of powers, which means complaining about democracy, he cannot serve as prime minister any more,’ main opposition leader Kılıçdaoğlu says about the PM’s separation of power criticism. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has slammed Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan once again over his suggestion that separation of powers was the main obstacle of the government, saying that the premier intends to oppress people and restrict democracy.

“If a prime minister complains about separation of powers, which means complaining about democracy, he cannot serve as prime minister any more. It means that his political life is completed in terms of democracy. He cannot speak about democracy and freedom anymore. He cannot be perceived as the prime minister of a modern country. He is a prime minister who intends to establish his sultanate, to oppress his people and to restrict democracy,” Kılıçdaroğlu said at a press conference on Dec. 19.
The premier’s remarks, in which he blamed separation of powers as the main obstacle of the government, sparked yet another debate as the opposition furiously criticized Erdoğan while ruling party officials tried to cool down the debate arguing he had been misunderstood.

Erdoğan said Dec. 17 that the political system in Turkey was built “in the wrong way,” and the bureaucracy and judiciary sometimes prevented the government from introducing further services. “People looking from outside say you have 326 lawmakers, and you are making up excuses. But the fact is separation of powers comes as an obstacle in our way,” he said.

Erdoğan’s remarks are an assault on the very core of democracy, Kılıçdaroğlu said. “He complains about democracy, separation of powers as well as opposition. What kind of mentality is that? If I said medieval mentality, it would be insufficient; if I said ancient age mentality, it would be unfair to people who struggled for democracy in that age.”

Division between powers

Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek, meanwhile, joined the debate and appeared to lend support to Erdoğan. “The judiciary has intervened in legislation. The ‘367 ruling’ is an example of this. There is a need for a rebalance of the powers,” Çiçek said, referring to a 2007 ruling by the Constitutional Court that Parliament needed a super-majority quorum of 367 lawmakers to elect a president.

Çiçek, however, noted that the three branches – legislative, executive and judicial – exist in all states. “One of them is not the alternative or the enemy of the other one; this is a distribution of duty. They should cooperate with each other within the framework of their own status. One of them should not intervene in the area of duty of the other and the Constitution is outlining borders for this.”

The CHP leader also said elections alone do not make a democracy, and that checking government power via institutions is required for a proper democracy. “Besides, the media is referred to as the fourth power. It is also essential for democracy.”

Asked whether Erdoğan’s statements reflect his desire for a presidential system, he said the principle of separation of powers is essential for every democracy regardless of whether a parliamentary or presidential system.

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) also rebuffed Erdoğan’s criticism about separation of powers and accused him of having dictatorial desires.

“Erdoğan desires a system which has no example in the world. The system he desires is not applicable even for sultanates. It would only be possible in dictatorships,” MHP deputy Şefik Çirkin told reporters yesterday.

The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) linked Erdoğan’s remarks with his enthusiasm for a presidential system. “There has never been separation of powers in Turkey. The legislature is not independent, let alone the judiciary. Mr. Erdoğan complains about bureaucratic oligarchy, but the whole bureaucracy is under his command. He is trying to legitimize the presidential system by exemplifying some mistakes,” BDP deputy Demir Çelik said Dec. 18.