Erdoğan wants 400 deputies for his former AKP at Turkish elections
DHA PhotoDisregarding opposition criticism of his direct involvement in politics, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan once again appealed for votes for his former Justice and Development Party (AKP) without explicitly giving the party’s name, declaring that “400 lawmakers” are needed for a “new Turkey.”
“If we want a new Turkey at the June 7 elections, we will give it 400 lawmakers,” Erdoğan said, speaking at a public rally in the northwestern province of Bursa on Feb. 6.
He linked several key issues to this newly set goal, including his desired shift to the presidential system.
“What we say is that if we want a new constitution, we have to reach 400 lawmakers,” he said.
At least 330 deputies in parliament are needed to change the constitution.
“If we want the presidential system, then we have to give 400 lawmakers. If we want the resolution process to continue, we have to give 400 lawmakers so that a strong party can come to power to realize it,” Erdoğan added, referring to the ongoing talks to find a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue.
He also slammed opposition criticism that the nominally impartial president should not hold partisan public meetings ahead of elections.
“Some people cannot stand such events. One of the [opposition] parties made a deputy apply to the High Election Board to make the president stop talking before the elections. But the board did not accept such an application. They want the president to sit in his chair in Ankara and not to intervene in their business. They just want the president to sign a few papers. But I have said I will not be a passive president. That is why 55 percent of this nation voted for us,” he said, referring to last year’s presidential election. Erdoğan became Turkey’s first publicly elected president in the Aug. 10 elections.
He repeated his wish for a change to presidential system from the current parliamentary system, labelling those who oppose this as “ignorant.”
“If this shirt is too tight for us, let’s change it for a new one,” Erdoğan said, adding that he had supported the presidential system since he was the mayor of Istanbul and suggesting that the current system has “hampered governments.”
The New York Times also received its share at the Bursa meeting, after it published an op-ed earlier this week penned by U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, Erdoğan’s arch-foe who he accuses of staging a “coup attempt” against the government through a corruption probe that emerged in December 2013.
“You see that the person in Pennsylvania [referring to Gülen] writes an article for a U.S. newspaper. Why does he do so? … Who are the bosses of this newspaper? How do they let him write for the newspaper? They have something in mind,” he said.
Gülen had harshly criticized the ruling AKP in his Feb. 3 article in the New York Times article titled “Turkey’s Eroding Democracy.”
Speaking in Bursa, Erdoğan also questioned why Gülen supporters were involved in the banking sector.
“Are you a scholar or a bank boss? Who does he lean on? Where are his bosses? You should inspect that,” he said, referring to the state run Savings Deposit Insurance Fund’s (TMSF) seizure of Bank Asya, the Islamic bank with links to Gülen, on Feb. 3.