Main opposition CHP rules out early elections push if ‘no’ wins in polls

Main opposition CHP rules out early elections push if ‘no’ wins in polls

Main opposition CHP rules out early elections push if ‘no’ wins in polls

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The main opposition Republican People’s Party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has ruled out any possibility that his party will press for snap elections in the event that constitutional amendments are not approved in an April 16 referendum.

“There won’t be a call for snap elections. Why would there be any snap elections? I would not find it right to go to snap elections at a time when Turkey has too many problems at hand,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in a televised interview on late March 22.

“However, the majority is not held by us, it is held by the ruling party. If they say ‘we will go to snap elections,’ then they will issue a draft bill for that. Who will make the decision then? Not one person will decide on that, 550 lawmakers will sit and discuss it,” he said, underlining that the constitutional framework would be protected if the amendment is not approved.

“If the ‘no’ votes prevail, the public’s message will be this: ‘We elected [MPs] and sent them to Parliament; we also elected Erdoğan as president. This country has so many problems in the economy, unemployment and foreign policy, so stay in your posts and solve those problems, develop a collaborative culture and let shared wisdom prevail,” he added.

President to be granted excessive authorities

The problem with the constitutional amendments lies in the fact that the president will be granted excessive authorities, Kılıçdaroğlu said.

“This president may not perform all the authorities but another one may do so. For example with one decree, the president may say ‘I am annulling retirement pay,’ and that will be that. Will he or she have the authority to do that? Yes. So, why not?” he said.

“Today, this authority is granted to the parliament. You are taking this authority away from the parliament and giving it to one person,” he said.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has disputed Kılıçdaroğlu’s criticism of the fact that the president will have the power to annul the parliament. AKP officials indicated in a row that the president will not solely have the authority to annul the parliament but that there will be an opportunity for both the president and parliament to call a new election.

“He did not read the text,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

"The future president can send parliament to an election by himself or herself without any justification. We consider it an annulment," he added. 

"When the president wants, [he or she can send them to the polls] one morning, saying parliament is not working. Evaluating his or her position as good, he or she will say, 'I am annulling this parliament and going to a re-election. There is this authority," Kılıçdaroğlu added.

“One-person regime”

The CHP and others in the “no” camp have frequently described the constitutional amendments as a regime change that will impose a “one-person system.” While arguing against the emphasis on the regime change, AKP officials have nonetheless admitted the importance of gathering executive power in one hand “in order to maintain stability.”

“His own prime minister, Binali Yıldırım, said that. We are shifting to an authoritarian system from a democratic parliamentarian system. We are making a regime change. It is that simple,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

“If you are appointing as many vice presidents as you want, forming as many ministries as you want and making all economic and social decisions, isn’t that a one-man regime?” he said.