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Pro-Kurdish party calls for replacing Turkey’s presidential system of governance

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The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has called for the elimination of the presidential system of governance in Turkey, which the party described as the source of the lack of solutions to the country’s problems, in a newly released policy document.

HDP Co-chairpersons Pervin Buldan and Mithat Sancar in Ankara on Monday unveiled the party’s “Call for Justice, Democracy and Peace” policy document in advance of the 2023 presidential and general elections. The document was drafted following meetings with civil society organizations, opinion leaders and visits to villages, districts and cities across the country,

“We want to replace the presidential system of governance, the main source of the lack of any solution to the country’s problems. Our goal is to ensure that a pluralistic, democratic system replaces this authoritarian rule that allows one man to accumulate all the power and have the final say [on everything],” the party said in its policy document.

Through a referendum in April 2017, Turkey switched from a parliamentary system of governance to an executive presidential system that granted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) sweeping powers and was criticized for removing constitutional checks and balances, thus leading to a further weakening of Turkish democracy.

Erdoğan was re-elected president under the new system in 2018.

The party also said Turkey’s longstanding Kurdish issue is the country’s most deeply rooted problem that needs to be addressed and that it is ready to do its best for a democratic solution and the achievement of peace in the country.

The Kurdish issue, a term prevalent in Turkey’s public discourse, refers to the demand for equal rights by the country’s Kurdish population and their struggle for recognition.

“The parliament should take the initiative to build a future for the entire society through democratic negotiations. In this regard, it is of utmost importance [for the state] to recognize all identity-related rights, primarily [education in] the mother tongue,” the party said.

According to Article 42 of the Turkish Constitution, ratified in 1982, two years after the military overthrew the government in a violent coup, “No language other than Turkish can be taught as a mother tongue to Turkish citizens.” Turkey has so far refrained from acceding to or fully complying with international treaties that guarantee the right to use mother tongues in education.

In its policy document, the HDP also calls for a strong democracy, an independent and impartial judiciary, respect for the will of the people, a peaceful foreign policy, the granting of freedom and equality to women, fairness in the economy, competence in public administration, respect for nature, freedom for young people to make their own life choices and a democratic constitution.

The party also said does not intend to take part in any election alliances for the 2023 elections. There are two election alliances in Turkey, one between the AKP and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), called the Public Alliance, and one between the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the İYİ (Good) Party, called the Nation Alliance.

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