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Opposition bloc vows to re-establish parliamentary democracy in Turkey

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The leaders of six Turkish opposition parties on Monday pledged to bring back parliamentary democracy to the country and scrap the executive presidential system introduced by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after a referendum in 2017.

At a ceremony in Ankara the leaders of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Felicity Party (SP), the İYİ (Good) Party, the Future Party (GP), the Democrat Party (DP) and the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) put their signatures to a 48-page declaration confirming their resolve to introduce a “strengthened parliamentary system” should they unseat Erdoğan in elections currently scheduled for June 2023.

After more than 11 years as Turkey’s prime minister, Erdoğan was elected president in 2014. The position was primarily ceremonial at the time. But in 2017 Turkish voters approved an executive presidential system, greatly expanding Erdoğan’s powers at the expense of those of the prime minister and parliament. Erdoğan was re-elected the following year. Critics call the system “one-man rule.”

The opposition blames Erdoğan’s one-man rule for Turkey’s woes, including an economic downturn and an erosion of rights and freedoms.

The new system envisioned by the six opposition parties would reintroduce the prime minister’s office and limit the president’s powers to largely symbolic ones, party officials said during the ceremony.

It foresees a greater separation of powers, including an increased legislative and oversight role for the parliament and an independent judiciary. It also promises transparency and greater rights and freedoms, including women’s rights.

The declaration was signed by CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, İYİ head Meral Akşener, SP leader Temel Karamollaoğlu, DEVA chairman Ali Babacan, GP chair and former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and DP chair Gültekin Uysal.

Davutoğlu and Babacan were co-founders of Erdoğan’s ruling party. They parted ways with the AKP over criticism of Erdoğan’s policies.

The leaders were criticized due to the fact that the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the second-largest opposition party in parliament, was excluded from the declaration.

In June Turkey’s Constitutional Court accepted an indictment seeking the HDP’s closure. The HDP is accused in the indictment of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU, and of posing a threat to the “indivisible integrity of the state.”

Erdoğan and his AKP have long portrayed the HDP as the political front of the PKK. The party denies links to PKK and says it is working to achieve a peaceful solution to Turkey’s Kurdish problem and is only coming under attack because of its strong opposition to Erdoğan’s 19-year rule.

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