Four former speakers of the Turkish Parliament, Kaya Erdem, Hüsamettin Cindoruk, Hikmet Çetin and Hüsamettin Cindoruk, issued a joint declaration on Tuesday in which they called for a “no” vote in a referendum slated for April 16.
The former parliament speakers said in the statement: “We see that a constitutional reform package which will be put to a public vote will drag our country to a perpetual problem if a ‘yes’ vote is the result.”
In the statement, which was also signed by former deputies, the signatories say it was impossible for them to remain silent during the referendum process and that they are calling on the public to vote “no” in the referendum.
In January, Turkey’s Parliament passed the constitutional amendments later approved by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that would transform the political order into an executive-style presidential system, effectively widening the scope of powers of the position.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), backed by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), pushed through the legislation that President Erdoğan says will bring the strong leadership needed to prevent a return of the fragile coalition governments of the past.
The Republican People’s Party (CHP) and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) fear the reform will fuel authoritarianism.
Parliament’s approval paved the way for a nationwide referendum on the amendments, which would give the president, a traditionally more ceremonial role, the power to dismiss ministers and Parliament, issue decrees, declare emergency rule and appoint figures to key positions, including the judiciary.
It would also allow the president to be a member of a political party, which is currently prohibited under the constitution as the presidency is expected to exercise impartiality.
The referendum on the constitutional amendments will be held on April 16.