550 former deputies call for ‘no’ vote in April 16 referendum

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A total of 550 former members of the Turkish Parliament in a joint declaration have called on the Turkish nation to vote “no” in a referendum to be held on April 16.

Turkey will hold a referendum on April 16 on a constitutional reform package, which will introduce an executive presidency if approved.

“No from the heart,” said the deputies, who include well-known figures such as Hikmet Çetin, Abdüllatif Şener, Ertuğrul Yalçınbayır, Altan Öymen, Masum Türker, Enis Öksüz, Esat Kıratlıoğlu and Hüsamettin Cindoruk, who called the planned amendments dangerous for Turkey’s future.

Making a statement on behalf of the group at a meeting in Ankara on Monday, Cindoruk said: “The state cannot in good faith be left to one person.”

The 550 former members of Parliament include one former deputy president, four parliament speakers, eight deputy prime ministers, 14 political party leaders, 108 ministers and 415 deputies from a total of 16 political parties.

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.

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