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Number of requests, complaints to Turkish presidency saw sharp rise in 2020

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The number of applications in which people state their requests and complaints to the Presidential Communications Center (CİMER) through a hotline or online application via Turkey’s e-government portal increased by 90 percent in 2020, the Birgün daily reported on Friday.

Citizens’ trust in government institutions declined significantly in 2020 in Turkey, a country where the economy is in trouble and press freedom has been curtailed in addition to a deterioration in health services and education, prompting people to claim their rights by submitting complaints to CİMER instead of the courts, Birgün said.

Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun recently boasted about the increasing number of applications sent to CİMER — nearly 6 million in 2020 — during a radio program.

“CİMER is one of the best examples of participatory democracy. It is the largest public communications portal in the world and will go down in history for its contributions to public communication,” Altun said on Turkish Police Radio on Jan. 13.

Critics, however, argue that the widespread use of the CİMER hotline and online system is often an indication of other public agencies’ failure to solve citizens’ issues, leaving them no choice but to submit a petition to the presidency.

Alpay Antmen, a lawyer, and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker, spoke to Birgün regarding the significant increase in the number of people submitting petitions to CİMER, arguing that the main reason behind it was the “one man rule” in Turkey.

In 2018 Turkey switched from a parliamentary to an executive presidential system of governance that granted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sweeping powers and was criticized for removing constitutional checks and balances and thus further weakening democracy.

“The reason behind this large number of petitions is the fact that citizens can no longer solve their problems in the courts due to incompetent local administrators and government officials who can’t do anything right without receiving instructions from the presidency,” the MP added.

Contrary to people’s expectations, however, CİMER also failed to address their issues properly, Antmen said.

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