CHP leader vows to stop Erdoğan building presidential system

CHP leader vows to stop Erdoğan building presidential system

CHP leader vows to stop Erdoğan building presidential system

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Turkey’s main opposition leader has vowed to stop all President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s efforts to shift Turkey to a presidential system from the current parliamentary system, underlining the significance of the country’s “two centuries of experience in the parliamentary system.” 

In a speech days after meeting with ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Dec. 30 about the new constitution and the government’s bid to change to a presidential system, Republican People’s Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said such a system would “break up the country.” 

“One feature of the presidential system is to divide and break up a country. If you want to do that, introduce the presidential system. What flaw do we currently have? We have a 200-year-long experience in parliamentary system. You are throwing these 200 years into the garbage. If we have a flaw, then let’s eliminate it, but you say ‘No, I want the presidential system in any case,’” Kılıçdaroğlu said on Jan. 5, apparently quoting Erdoğan. 

The CHP head also mocked claims by Erdoğan and government officials that the most developed countries in the world are ruled by presidential systems.

“This country has turned into a ring of fire. Very young children are losing their lives and news of martyrs is coming every day,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, referring to violence between the security forces and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which reignited in the summer of 2015, shattering a fragile peace process and a two-and-a-half-year de facto period of non-conflict.

“We are also in a miserable situation abroad. But he just has a one-track mind: ‘I will be the president anyway,’” Kılıçdaroğlu added, addressing a weekly parliamentary group meeting of his party.

Speaking at a press conference late on Dec. 31 after his arrival in Istanbul from an official visit to Saudi Arabia, Erdoğan said “nobody is claiming presidential systems are perfect,” but nevertheless they function more effectively than parliamentary systems.

“In the vast majority of developed countries, we see this system or semi-presidential system or partisan-president system. The existing system in America is a kind of partisan-president system … The president does not break off his relationship with his party. He has his party behind him,” Erdoğan said, suggesting that a presidential system would allow Turkey to take “much stronger steps.”

In response, Kılıçdaroğlu refuted these claims on Jan. 5. 

“We have done research to see whether it really is as he says. According to the United Nations Human Development Index, out of the 20 most developed countries, 17 are ruled by a parliamentary system and two are governed by a presidential system,” he said. 

“On the other hand, out of the 20 countries listed at the bottom with regard to human development, 14 are ruled by a presidential system and five are ruled by a semi-presidential system,” the CHP head added.