Erdoğan calls lower required age to be elected as lawmaker

Erdoğan calls lower required age to be elected as lawmaker

ISTANBUL - Doğan News Agency
Erdoğan calls lower required age to be elected as lawmaker

Prime Minister Erdoğan kisses the hand of a secondary school student in Istanbul on Oct 5. Students cheered for Erdoğan as he walked by a school after Friday’s prayer. AA photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called Oct. 5 for the age requirement of elected parliamentary deputies to be reduced to 18 years old.

“This is the first time I am making this call. I am making a call with the [same] mentality that gave the right to vote in elections at the age of 18; if you have already given this right [to the people], then let us also give the right to be elected at the age of 18,” Erdoğan said during a speech made at the opening ceremony of the Yıldız Technical University 2012-2013 education year in Istanbul.

Erdoğan said the biggest danger at universities is dogmatism and being close to change.

“Some universities were known for their attitude of ‘standardization’ during some terms. The mentality that perceived the universities as an ideological tool has prevented the creation of a real university atmosphere which takes the free thinking as a base for a long time,” he said.

Trust in youth

“They made us go through difficulties when decreasing the election age from 30 to 25. This means they don’t trust you,” he said.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chair Gürsel Tekin objected to Erdoğan’s remarks, while other opposition parties voiced their support.

Engagement in politics is not a fundamental problem for Turkish youth, Tekin said. “Our youth face the problems of poverty, unemployment and education. Erdoğan cannot even tolerate to youth’s thoughts,” Tekin told the Hürriyet Daily News on Oct. 5. “Is the only remaining problem to get them to Parliament?”

The current age requirement to run for political office, 25, is natural, Tekin said. “How could a young person of 18 hold on to life after he leaves the Parliament?”

According to Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Deputy Chair Reşat Doğru, “18-year-olds deserve everything.”

“In today’s world, thanks to the conditions under which they grew up, their use of technology, their access to information and the proper education that they receive, people become more qualified at an earlier age,” Doğru said. “We believe it is possible to give youth the right to become political candidates at the age of 18. I believe that this is a correct approach. Youth at the age of 18 should be able to be elected as deputies.”

Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Deputy Chair Nursel Aydoğan said her party had no objection to 18 as the legal age for voting and at which to take political office. “This is also a part of our party’s policy.

Young people became apolitical very quickly after 1980,” Aydoğan said, apparently referring to the aftershocks of the Sept. 12, 1980 military coup d’état.