There is a price to pay for democracy: CHP chair

There is a price to pay for democracy: CHP chair

Deniz Zeyrek - BERLIN
There is a price to pay for democracy: CHP chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the chair of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has not budged an inch from the controversial words he uttered on May 11, claiming that a presidential system could not be brought about without “spilling blood,” recalling incidents in Turkey’s modern history when people paid the price of democracy with their lives. 

“I do not care about the reactions,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in an exclusive interview with daily Hürriyet during his two-day trip to Berlin. “People paid with their lives [when they resisted] anti-democratic practices in this country,” he added, providing the examples of  former Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, who was executed following a 1950 military coup, and student leader Deniz Gezmiş, who was executed in 1972 for attempting to “overthrow the constitutional order.”

“Have a look at human history and it is the history of people who paid a price for democracy. People like Deniz Gezmiş and Prime Minister [Menderes] paid a price after being executed. Aren’t unsolved murders examples of this?” he questioned.  

Kılıçdaroğlu said his speech at the general assembly of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) in Ankara was very clear, despite attempts to distort it by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“If you try to make Turkey’s democratic gains dependent upon the words of a single person, if one person ends up making the lists of deputies, ordering the judiciary and getting the results he wants, if one person limits media freedoms, changes Turkey’s destiny, drags it into the chaos of the Middle East and distances it from the civilized world - this would not be easy, you cannot do this without spilling blood,” he said, referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is the driving force behind attempt to shift Turkey’s parliamentary system into a presidential one. 

“Let’s see them do it! It’s as simple and clear as that!” he added, challenging the AKP government.

Democracy not oppression of majority

The CHP leader also criticized the AKP’s references to “national will,” saying it was not possible for a single person to make all the decisions because of the percentage of votes garnered by the ruling party.

“You can get as many votes as you like, but you cannot do anything you please. In order to do that, you need to oppress and destroy everyone who opposes you. Democracy is not the oppression of the majority,” he said, explaining that people continued to pay a price to be able to freely express their opinions.

Kılıçdaroğlu also suggested a discrepancy between the rhetoric of democracy and the fact that the prime minister of a government that got nearly 50 percent of the votes was “forced into resignation.”

“There is a dictatorial regime in Turkey. If the prime minister of a legitimate government that garnered 49.5 percent of the votes is being forced into resignation, what kind of a democracy is this?” he asked, stressing they were fighting for Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who announced his resignation on May 5, in the name of his 23 million voters. 

He underlined that his contacts in Europe were also puzzled about Davutoğlu’s resignation, stressing the “AKP culture” based on the will of a single person was unacceptable.