Turkish President Erdoğan’s poll strategy remarks irk opposition

Turkish President Erdoğan’s poll strategy remarks irk opposition

Turkish President Erdoğan’s poll strategy remarks irk opposition

AA Photo

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has submitted the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) draft election manifesto, which includes the adoption of the presidential system among its priorities, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has revealed, expressing his satisfaction with its content.

“I should openly express one point: I discussed these issues with the prime minister last week. Mr. Prime Minister has addressed his opinions about the presidential system in a very detailed manner. I have also read it and expressed my own views as well,” Erdoğan told reporters before his departure to Slovenia March 30.

While Erdoğan’s statement sparked criticism from opposition parties on the grounds the president had confessed he violated the constitutional principle of impartiality, the president argued he never said he read the election manifesto, only a few hours later in a joint press conference with the Slovenian president.

“Mr. Prime Minister shared his views on the presidential system and informed me that he will personally write the part [of the election manifesto] on the presidential system. And he asked my opinions in this regard. I shared my views upon this,” Erdoğan said.

When recalling some opposition parties have proposed sending their election manifestos to the presidency, Erdoğan said, “I would be pleased to assist them. That would be more accurate, especially if they send me the part on the presidential system. That’s how we can move forward.” 

In an interview last week, Davutoğlu stated he wrote the section on the presidential system in the election manifesto but did not disclose he already had submitted it to Erdoğan. Davutoğlu, who is expected to publicize the AKP’s election manifesto in mid-April, said he was opting for the presidential system.

“I am of the opinion that he [Davutoğlu] will reflect his views about the presidential system in their [AKP] election manifesto and the line of the ruling party on this issue will be clear. This is, of course, a very good development for me personally,” Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan stressed the proposed presidential system will be a national one but will also benefit from other countries’ experiences. “The parliamentary system has become an obstacle [for Turkey’s development]. We have to move ahead of contemporary civilizations,” he said.

“In order to be able to talk about these objectives we need a system change. The will to make this change is in Turkey. It will definitely be national. But can’t we benefit from other systems in the world? We should discuss systems of countries that best practice this system and have reached the $40,000, $50,000, $60,000 GDP per capita in a more detailed way. And Turkey should be in an effort to catch these countries. We can’t look at countries behind us,” he said.

Opposition united in criticizing Erdoğan

“Mr. President is constantly asking for 400 lawmakers … in his public rallies. Of course we won’t leave his kind of efforts without a response. We will send our election manifesto to him. The MHP [Nationalist Movement Party] and the HDP [Peoples’ Democratic Party] can also send [their election manifestos]. Let’s see whether we can pass the test. We have such an impartial president. I hope we’ll pass the test and we’ll see whether he will make a contribution to our manifestos,” Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Gürsel Tekin said.

The deputy parliamentary group leader of the MHP, Oktay Vural, also criticized both the president and the prime minister over the same issue. “There is no AKP chairman, no president and no prime minister around. There is a prime minister incapable of writing his own manifesto. Turkey has become a country being ruled by the personal ambitions and wishes of one man,” he said.

HDP deputy parliamentary group leader Pervin Buldan accused the president of acting as the AKP’s president and his words were direct evidence of his partisanship. “We won’t send him our manifesto because he is not impartial. We are writing our manifesto upon the demands of our people,” she said.