Turkey’s main opposition leader has made clear that their fierce objection concerning President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) ambitions for a presidential system is not related to Erdoğan. It is the principle of the presidential system which draws the party’s ire.
“We are against presidential system. We do not regard it as a personal matter related to Mr. Erdoğan,” Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said on Jan. 7, when asked whether their objection was directed at “presidential system or Erdoğan.”
“But he considers it a personal matter. ... We don’t have a problem as long as the president remains within constitutional restraints and is loyal to the oath that he has taken. Our citizens elected Mr. Erdoğan. We haven’t criticized him individually either. Whenever he exceeded constitutional boundaries, I made the harshest criticism using his language,” Kılıçdaroğlu added, in an interview with private NTV news channel.
In a speech delivered to muhtars (village heads) from villages and districts of nine different provinces who he hosted at a meeting in the presidential palace, Erdoğan underlined the need for a transition from the current parliamentary system into a presidential system, while also claiming that the existing system had paved the way for military coups in the past.
“Why are we making the parliamentary system into a democracy fetish? There have been parliamentary systems that produced dictators in the past. When I recently gave the example of Hitler and Nazi Germany as a dictatorship that resulted from a parliamentary system, they [the opposition parties] distorted my words,” he said.
During the interview, journalists asked Kılıçdaroğlu whether Erdoğan’s above explanation “satisfied” him.
“No; these are just to save himself. Let’s say that I misunderstood and the newspapers misunderstood. Well, did the entire world misunderstand? He made a very unfortunate statement by giving the example of Hitler. If you give Hitler’s Germany as example while giving examples of presidential systems, it is not a statement that can be forgiven,” he said. “This is actually the expression of a regime that he has in his mind.”