CHP head warns of dangers of populism in Strasbourg

CHP head warns of dangers of populism in Strasbourg

CHP head warns of dangers of populism in Strasbourg

Populism is dangerous and needs to be avoided at all times, Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said at a panel at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

“Populism is very dangerous but we will certainly overcome this,” Kılıçdaroğlu said at a panel titled “Is Populism a Problem?” at the Council of Europe on Nov. 8.

Citing the example of Turkey in recent years, the CHP head said populist leaders “corrode democracy and target universal principles” through restricting media freedom and weakening judicial independence.

Kılıçdaroğlu was speaking during a two-day visit to Strasbourg, where he met with Council of Europe head Thorbjorn Jagland and officials from the Venice Commission.

“Populist politicians never hesitate to curb democratic norms just to be able to come to power and stay there … They first try to destroy the plural nature of the media. Then they may arrest dissident journalists by labeling them traitors, terrorists, etc.,” he said.

Populist leaders also take aim at judicial independence and academia, seeking to polarize society in order to consolidate their power, Kılıçdaroğlu added.

“For them corruption and [ethical] erosion is just ordinary,” the CHP leader said, warning that populists try to “create oligarchs and pro-government businessmen in order to control all aspects of the economy and effect society.”

Kılıçdaroğlu stressed that populist leaders do not hesitate to intervene in democratic elections in order to stay in power do not care about reports penned by independent observers.

He suggested that the best way to take on populist leaders is to be “brave and unyielding.”