CHP open to consensus for the presidency

CHP open to consensus for the presidency

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
CHP open to consensus for the presidency

‘The presidential system was not proposed within the new constitutional change. The AKP is bringing this discussion to the agenda in order to disguise its political failures,’ CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu says.

Turkey has begun an early discussion about elections for president after presidential spokesman Ahmet Sever said he resented the statements made about President Abdullah Gül’s term of office. These days, Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) corridors are very busy. While people on the side of either Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan or Gül are discussing the subject in detail, the comments suggesting that a freeze might grow between these two figures are becoming prominent. While a storm is brewing in the AKP, what is the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) doing? What do the party members think about presidential elections? What does CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu plan for 2014?

With Hürriyet Daily News Ankara Representative Serkan Demirtaş, I had the chance to interview Kılıçdaroğlu and asked some questions about the presidency the previous week. Kılıçdaroğlu seemed to be determined to be an important figure in the 2014 elections.

“The presidential system is a different thing. It seems that esteemed [Deputy Prime Minister Bekir] Bozdağ does not know about the presidential system. We don’t believe the public’s election of the president is appropriate. A public election is one of the methods, but it does not require the [president’s] authorities to be increased. The presidential system was not proposed within the new constitutional change. The AKP is bringing this discussion to the agenda in order to disguise its political failures. They also know that such a thing will not happen,” he said when told that there were discussions over the presidential system and that Bozdağ said a semi-presidential system would be established in 2014.

“I don’t find it right that a person with a prominent party identity should become president, since the president should address all spheres of society. A person belonging to a political party cannot do that,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in reference to a model proposed by Erdoğan in which the president would belong to a political party.

Asked what he thought about a formula under which a consensus nominee would be chosen, he said, “We are always open to consensus, because the basis of democracy is not conflict, but consensus.” When asked if he had a candidate for the presidency in his mind, “Yes, I have more than one candidate in mind,” he said.

Careful language
I observed that Kılıçdaroğlu is aiming to hit the ruling party by benefiting from the distance between Erdoğan and Gül. He plans to shape society’s perception by increasing that distance, and local elections will create an opportunity for the CHP.

Kılıçdaroğlu has hinted that a candidate who can address everyone and can combat the AKP’s candidate might appear. By saying he is open to consensus, he gives the message that he could form a huge block against the AKP with the support of many political parties inside and outside of Parliament and various spheres of society.

He is trying not to exclude Kurds or nationalists while doing that. Kılıçdaroğlu uses very careful language. “Politicians must use a more integrative language in order to solve the Kurdish problem. With such a language, we can create an atmosphere of social consensus. And if we create it, no one can say ‘we shouldn’t speak,’” he says.

He has also sent moderate messages to Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, who is very strict about not joining the CHP to solve the Kurdish problem. “We should understand him. Bahçeli has a certain political stance; we don’t expect him to give up his views. We could also bring a new framework to his political stance. We could achieve consensus and get together again,” he says.

Kılıçdaroğlu gave the impression that he wanted support from all spheres of society for his possible candidate and plans to form a strong coalition against the AKP’s candidate.

The new CHP’s plan for presidential elections in the upcoming period is taking shape. Kılıçdaroğlu has clearly showed that not only the ruling party, but the CHP as well will have an important role in the presidential elections.


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