Presidential system ‘will divide country,’ Kılıçdaroğlu says

Presidential system ‘will divide country,’ Kılıçdaroğlu says

Presidential system ‘will divide country,’ Kılıçdaroğlu says

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Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) will not support a shift to a presidential system which will “divide the country,” its leader has said.

“If you are strengthening the parliamentary system, come and we will support it,” CHP head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said at an event in the northwestern province of Sakarya on April 9, referring to the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) demand that the new constitution be based on a presidential system.

“If you want a more democratic constitution come and we will give all kinds of support, but we won’t support a regulation that will lead to the division of Turkey,” Kılıçdaroğlu added.

A Constitution Conciliation Committee of 12 deputies - three from each of Turkey’s four parliamentary parties - had first met on Feb. 3 but broke up on Feb. 17 over the AKP’s demand that the new charter be based on a presidential system, which no opposition party backs.

Saying that the constitution should be prepared in such a way that every citizen in Turkey could say, “This constitution is mine,” when they hold it, the CHP leader added that the first four articles in the constitution “shouldn’t be touched.”

“Now they are saying that the constitution should change. I wrote a letter to the parliamentary speaker and said that some of the articles in the constitution should change with the coup laws, if the constitution is to be changed, and that we are against the alteration of the first four articles. According to our understanding, if there are 78 million citizens living in this country, we want all of them to be patriots. This is the reason why we are against the presidential system,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

The first three articles of the Turkish constitution mark the principles of the Turkish state, while the fourth one says the first three cannot be changed.

Answering a question about the presidential system, Kılıçdaroğlu said the regime in a country is determined by its history. “There has been a presidential system in the U.S. since it was established. The U.S. is the only country where the presidential system is implemented entirely. The president is the weakest link, the states have parliaments and can pass laws,” he said.

“We have had a parliamentary system at our core since the Ottoman era. The parliamentary system has a history of 150 years [in Turkey]. Can we operate it better and make it better? Yes. Does it have sides that fail, is it possible to correct it? Yes, we can do this,” he said.

Kılıçdaroğlu added that Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu also believes Turkey needs a more democratic and liberal constitution.