Baykal revises earlier remarks, says CHP should resist executive presidency until the end

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Deniz Baykal

Former leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deniz Baykal has said the CHP should resist the introduction of an executive presidency in Turkey until the very end, revising earlier statement that indicated his support for a change in the system of governance in the country.

In remarks that appeared in the pro-government Yeni Birlik daily’s Friday edition, Baykal said: “When [the need for] a system change reaches an inevitable point, I believe we should think about it. We need to make an assessment of the presidential system within the framework of a period in which we are experiencing so many problems.”

However, the CHP leader released a written statement later in the day in which he said his remarks were taken out of context and were presented as if he were an advocate of presidential system.

In the written statement Baykal said the CHP should resist an executive presidency in Turkey with every resource available to it, noting that adopting such a system would make the dangers faced by Turkey today even more serious.

“More than ever, Turkey today needs common sense and institutional thinking and attitude. However, looking at the current political picture, switching to a presidential system would open the way for more arbitrary and individual practices,” said Baykal, adding that such a situation would make Turkey’s domestic and foreign problems more complicated.

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli sparked a fresh debate over the introduction of an executive presidency in Turkey last week when he said there was a de facto situation in Turkey concerning its style of governance and that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was acting like an executive president although his post is largely ceremonial. Bahçeli said the situation needs to be resolved.

Following Bahçeli’s remarks, government officials have said they are planning to bring constitutional amendments related to an executive presidency to Parliament in January and to hold a referendum on them in April.

The CHP strongly opposes the introduction of an executive presidency in Turkey and supports the parliamentary system that is currently in effect.

The post of the president is largely ceremonial in Turkey; however, President Erdoğan has been acting as an executive president since his election to the top state post in August 2014. Erdoğan is a strong supporter of a switch to the presidential system. Yet, critics say Erdoğan wants a “Turkish style” executive presidency without checks and balances, one that is aimed at creating one-man rule.

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