Turkish President’s ‘double-referenda’ idea causes uproar

Turkish President’s ‘double-referenda’ idea causes uproar

Turkish President’s ‘double-referenda’ idea causes uproar

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, AA Photo

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent proposal for holding two referenda on the creation of a new constitution and a transition into a presidential system has drawn the ire of opposition parties of Turkey, while prompting Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to underline that any system change should not lead to a “hybrid system” in which responsibilities are muddled.

“In a presidential, semi-presidential or partisan-president system, comfort will come in the swift making of decisions,” Erdoğan said in his remarks subject to debate. “Eliminating ‘double-headedness’ is very important,” Erdoğan also said in remarks published in several dailies on Dec. 14. “We need to remove the coup constitution. If they want to do so, they should take it to the nation. I believe that the nation will say ‘yes’ to a new constitution with a vast majority. Don’t the opposition parties want presidential system? Then it should be taken to vote separately,” he said, while speaking with a group of journalists on the presidential plane from Turkmenistan to Turkey late Dec. 12.

All different methods, including a double referendum can be discussed, Erdoğan said.

“But if we are to build a new system, then this system should be clear. I believe that no hybrid system would bring a positive result. My choice is pure and clear, a system where distribution of authorities and responsibilities is clear,” Davutoğlu said on Dec. 14 in an interview with A Haber news channel. “There is need not to distract attention. I don’t think that it is right to constantly make speculation over relationship of the president and the prime minister,” he also emphasized.

The opposition parties gave the cold shoulder to Erdoğan’s proposal, calling it unrealistic and a new maneuver by the president to make his aspirations come true through a different method. 

Erdoğan’s proposal has never been implemented anywhere in the world, Deputy Co-Chair Meral Danış Beştaş of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said.

“The constitution is a whole. There is a fundamental issue which we call the spirit of constitution in regards to the executive body, the legislative body and the administrative organization as well as in regards to rights and freedoms. If we are to make a constitution which has checks and balances and a separation of powers, these powers will take place in the text of a constitution,” Beştaş said.

“At the moment, the president is trying to legitimize his own desire. He is thinking over again and again and finding a method each day, saying ‘How can I make people buy this?’ We will not allow this,” she said.

According to Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) Secretary-General İsmet Büyükataman, Erdoğan’s remarks signal a move to “implement a secret agenda.”

Büyükataman said Davutolğlu’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) didn’t put the presidential system on the party’s agenda before the Nov. 1 snap elections because of “citizens’ concerns.” However, he said, “After coming to power with the high vote, they [the AKP] put the issue on the agenda again by letting the cat out of the bag.”  He added, “He [Erdoğan] wants to implement his secret agenda. He wants to make a new constitution that is in line with the promises he made to the PKK [the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party]. The new constitution should drop from Turkey’s agenda. The presidential system is not a system which Turkey can carry.”

Meanwhile, HDP’s Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair İdris Baluken argued that the presidential system is an agenda item only for Erdoğan.

“There is no such debate, even on the agendas of Davutoğlu and the AKP,” Baluken said, suggesting that Erdoğan always tried to change the country’s agenda especially when delivering remarks “on board.