HDP co-chair sees new presidency as ‘one-man rule’

HDP co-chair sees new presidency as ‘one-man rule’

HDP co-chair sees new presidency as ‘one-man rule’

AP photo

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has said he sees an executive presidency as a model for “one-man rule” amid debates on a possible change in the Turkish constitution that will equip President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with enhanced powers.

In an interview with Reuters on Nov. 8, Demirtaş accused Erdogan of trying to create a “constitutional dictatorship” by pushing for an executive presidential system and fostering a climate of fear to win an election landslide. 

“We would have to lose our minds to agree to this,” he said, stressing the HDP would oppose the plan to put more power in the hands of the presidency.

“Erdogan’s plan for the executive presidential system is not a model for an executive presidency but one-man rule, a constitutional dictatorship that merges all authority into a single hand,” he said.

Demirtaş said he believed the government could call a referendum as soon as this time next year on a new constitution that would transform what has been a largely ceremonial presidency. 

In the Nov. 1 snap election, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) regained the parliamentary majority which it lost on June 7, winning 317 of 550 seats - only 13 short of the number needed to call such a referendum. 

Erdoğan’s spokesman said after the election on Nov. 1 that an issue such as transitioning to the presidential system couldn’t be decided without the nation’s support and if a referendum were needed, then one would be held. 

Speaking at the HDP’s headquarters, Demirtaş said next summer might be too early for a referendum but it could happen as soon as autumn 2016. 

The rise in AKP support appeared to have been motivated by renewed fighting in the southeast between Turkish security forces and outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants after a ceasefire collapsed in July. Hundreds have since died.

AKP deputy chairman Ayhan Sefer Üstün rejected the accusations from Demirtaş, saying his party’s supporters had been threatened in Kurdish areas before the election.