Erdogan is intent on changing Turkey’s constitution to consolidate his hold on power and effectively, turn Turkey into a dictatorship. The opposition leader is warning that attempting such a change would lead to violence. Therefore we will be keeping an eye on this situation as it bears the potential to ignite a civil war in Turkey.
Not that the conflict with the Kurds is not a civil war, so Turkey would be riven by two civil wars at the same time which would surely lead to the break up of the country and the destruction of the existing power structure.
From this implosion there are bound to be ripples of unrest that spread out and destabilise other countries in the region so this is a situation that should concern more people than just the Turks.
The leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has criticized the presidential system that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) wishes to impose, saying such a system cannot be implemented without violence.
“You can’t bring in such a presidential system without spilling blood,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in a speech to the general assembly of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) in Ankara on May 11, while discussing efforts to form a new constitution.
“The current constitution states that the judiciary is independent and impartial. It says that no post or authority can give orders or instructions to the judiciary. If we are to write a new constitution, we will write the same things,” he added.
A Constitution Conciliation Committee of 12 deputies – three from each of Turkey’s four parliamentary parties – first met on Feb. 3 but broke up on Feb. 17 over the AKP’s demand that the new charter be based on a presidential system, which no opposition party backs.
Stating that he had revealed the orders of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ to judicial authorities on numerous occasions, Kılıçdaroğlu said he asked outgoing Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu about the aforementioned orders.
“How can these orders be given? They are saying the coup laws should stay but we should change the constitution. Why? They are saying they will bring the presidential system. One person will speak and Turkey will be silent. One person will speak and judges will rule accordingly. One person will speak and lawmaker lists will be prepared accordingly. You can’t impose such a presidential system,” said Kılıçdaroğlu, referring to the current constitution, which was shaped after the Sept. 12, 1980 military coup but has undergone a number of amendments since.
The 1982 charter replaced a relatively more liberal constitution of 1961, which also was drafted after a military coup.
Backlash from the AKP
Kılıçdaroğlu’s remarks created a backlash from the ruling AKP, with the party’s Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Bülent Turan accusing the CHP head of calling for a “civil war” and Economy Minister Mustafa Elitaş claiming that he was plotting a “military coup.”
“We are curious to see what Kılıçdaroğlu will do. Will he execute deputies who support the presidential system? Will he round them up in gas chambers like the Nazis?” Elitaş asked, saying “only the nation” could decide on any political system change.
“Our nation is adequately foresighted, they will not be frightened by Kılıçdaroğlu’s civil war threats,” he added, slamming the CHP leader as a “political corpse.”
“Are you a coup supporter? Do you intend to stage a coup d’état? Are you calling for a coup?” Elitaş said, accusing the CHP of “despising and neglecting the national will.”
Kılıçdaroğlu criticizes TOBB
Meanwhile, Kılıçdaroğlu also criticized the TOBB for “not being as courageous as TÜSİAD [Turkish Industry and Business Organization]” in the aftermath of Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman’s call for removing the principle of secularism from Turkey’s constitution on April 25.
“Why didn’t you object? Doesn’t TOBB’s title start with ‘Turkey’? he said, stressing the importance of secularism for religious freedoms.
“The parliamentary speaker can get up, speak, say that secularism should be removed from the constitution, and you will not be as courageous as TÜSİAD [to speak up against him]. I cannot accept this,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
TÜSİAD had slammed Kahraman for his remarks, expressing “sadness and discontent” in a written statement and saying the removal of secularism was “unacceptable.” Kılıçdaroğlu said he had every right “rebuke” the TOBB on such an issue, as the union had “left him alone in the political scene.”
“You shouldn’t make me shoulder the entire responsibility and expect more democracy. You should provide support,” he added.
TOBB chair challenges Kılıçdaroğlu
These statements were not welcomed by TOBB Chair Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, who harshly criticized Kılıçdaroğlu in his own speech at the meeting.
“I am not the leader of the opposition. I am the TOBB head. If he wants to oppose me, he can stand next year [in the TOBB elections]. He hasn’t made it in Turkey and he will learn his lesson here as well,” Hisarcıklıoğlu said.
He also dismissed the CHP leader’s criticisms on remaining silent on the issue of secularism, stressing the TOBB’s position in favor of preserving Turkey’s status as a “democratic, secular, social state of law.”