‘That referendum will take place,’ vows President Erdoğan
AA photoThe government-supported constitutional amendments will be presented to the public “despite opposition efforts to delay the process,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has vowed, claiming that the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) “guards the status quo” by protesting against the draft during parliamentary debates.
“Blocking or prolonging the work of parliament does nothing. You can do whatever you want, but this charter will be passed from parliament and will be presented to the public,” Erdoğan said in an address to local neighborhood heads (muhtars) at the Presidential Palace on Jan. 12.
Erdoğan’s comments came after parliament witnessed more fierce arguments between ruling and opposition lawmakers during the voting process on items of the 18-article constitutional amendment. CHP lawmakers occupied the podium during the debate, after which a brawl erupted between CHP deputies and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies.
“That podium is not there to be brought down. It is there for representatives who have words to say,” Erdoğan stated.
“If you have respect for the people, believing in the people’s will and believing in Gazi Mustafa Kemal’s principle that sovereignty rests unconditionally with the nation, then let the discussions be finalized and let it be presented to the people. We will comply with whatever the public decides,” he added, referring to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic.
‘Constitution is not about me’
Erdoğan also slammed the criticism that the constitutional changes aim to bring about a “one-man regime.”
“They say it will be a ‘one-man regime’. What ‘one-man regime’? You yourselves are the source of the one-man regime. This country saw CHP provincial heads serving as governors,” he said, referring to the early years of the Turkish Republic, when the founding party CHP ruled as a sole party before the shift to a multi-party system in 1946.
“All the discussions are focused on me, but they have nothing to do with me personally. A constitutional amendment will be carried out in Turkey. That is all,” Erdoğan added.
‘CHP is guarding the status quo’
The president also denied claims that the amendments amount to a “regime change.”
“The emphasis on the Republic of Turkey being a democratic, secular, social law-based state has not been amended,” Erdoğan said.
“At a time when the world, the region and Turkey are changing, it is simple bigotry to say that everything should stay the same. The CHP is guarding the status quo,” he added.