Turkey's main opposition outlines ambitious election manifesto
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, chairman of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), announced his party’s manifesto under the title of “A Livable Turkey” and introduced his parliamentary candidates on April 19 in Ankara with the participation of more than 5,000 enthusiastic party colleagues.
“This is not just an election manifesto. Today we are announcing a comprehensive document of a vision that no party has ever been able to draft for Turkey and its future,” Kılıçdaroğlu told the crowd, underlining that he was promising to create “a livable Turkey” for all.
Introducing a four-legged strategy for the realization of his promise, Kılıçdaroğlu said the first section was to ensure Turkey becomes one of the top 20 countries on the Human Development Index. “Our current rank is 69. Our objective is to move Turkey forward and to place it among the first 20 countries. Can we make it? Yes, we can,” he said.
In a bid to do so, the CHP will push for democracy and freedoms, introduce the Political Ethics Act and reduce the election threshold from the current 10 percent, among many other measures, Kılıçdaroğlu said. Likewise, the CHP will seriously deal with the Kurdish question, Kılıçdaroğlu said. “I will not be humble on this. It is the CHP that can resolve this question because it’s the most courageous and honest party when it comes to resolving the Kurdish issue.”
The right address for the resolution of the problem is parliament, the CHP leader said, while the manifesto suggested establishing a national inter-party commission to carry out the process.
A competitive Turkey
The second leg of the strategy is to implement numerous measures to turn the country into a competitive economic actor by exiting the “middle income and middle technology trap.”
“We need to develop a value-added industry based on technology production. To do so, we need to create an ‘information society.’ As Turkey, we should not miss the train and should adapt ourselves to immediately turn [the country] into an information society. But how can universities produce knowledge? We will abolish the High Education Board [YÖK], another remainder of the Sept. 12  coup, and thus remove the tutelage over universities,” he said.
The CHP also promised to create employment for 1 million Turks through economic policies that envisage that creation of more jobs at a moment when official figures suggest more than 11 percent of the country is unemployed.
Erasing credit card debts
The third leg of the CHP strategy is to reinforce a constitutional principle of the “social state” to provide a fair distribution of the national wealth that has been severely damaged over the 13-year rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP).
“They have implemented a very remorseless growth policy. Some people hit the jackpot while the number of the poor climbed. Let me give you a figure. In 2002, Turkey’s richest 1 percent grabbed 39 percent of the national wealth. This became 54 percent in 2014. This explains how we now have 17 million poor in the country. They have not opted to end poverty but manage it. They have turned the poor into their grassroots. But I promise there will be no poverty in Turkey at the end of four years of our rule,” he said.
Thanks to a family insurance system the CHP will introduce, there will be no family earning less than 720 Turkish Liras a month, Kılıçdaroğlu said, heralding that the minimum wage would also not be less than 1,500 liras, representing a 50 percent hike from its current amount.
The CHP head also promised to allow every family to own an apartment or to end high rents through a system in which families will pay only 277 liras a month for a 70-square-meter apartment.
Kılıçdaroğlu also promised to erase 80 percent of citizens’ credit card debt, noting that nearly 5 million Turkish citizens had become indebted to banks in recent years.
“Some 89,000 people have been imprisoned because they could not pay their debts, while 430,000 are at risk of being jailed just because of it. That’s why I criticize the government for turning the country into an open-air prison,” he said.
For the sustainability of a livable Turkey, Kılıçdaroğlu said the last leg was to establish a strong state with strong institutions free from the interventions of politics. “It’s not enough to establish democracy. It should be rooted. For this, the governments will not intervene into the affairs of independent institutions like the Central Bank and others.”
First 100 days, first 12 months
Kılıçdaroğlu also published a to-do list for the first 100 days and 12 months of a CHP administration. Granting two bonus wages for pensioners ahead of the two religious fests; implementing the family insurance system; ending subcontracted labor and recruiting subcontracted workers as public workers; erasing 80 percent of citizen debt to banks; adopting a Political Ethics Act and reducing the 10 percent election threshold will all be realized within the first 100 days of CHP a government, Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Kılıçdaroğlu’s 12-month objectives include reducing the price of a liter of gasoline to 1.5 liras only for farmers; increasing the minimum wage to 1,500 liras, eliminating the dormitory problems of university students and restructuring subsidy systems.