Opposition leader says people of Turkey can see current system’s failures

The people have seen that, contrary to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan promising a solution for everything under the presidential system, the problems in the country have increased and deepened, said main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in an extensive interview with the left-wing newspaper BirGün on Friday.

Inflation has increased and the economy has come to a halt under the new system, Kılıçdaroğlu said, with the number of unemployed citizens, including those with higher education, pushing eight million. 

No longer able to make ends meet, the people have started to see that Turkey cannot be governed under the current system, according to the opposition leader.

Kılıçdaroğlu likened the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to the Tulip Period of the Ottoman Empire, known for the indulgence of the ruling classes, which ended with a large-scale insurgency in the 18th century.

“The demand for snap elections will face the Palace like a swell rising from the ground,” he said.

Calling the current system a dictatorship, Kılıçdaroğlu said July 20, when in 2016 a state of emergency was declared following a failed putsch, has done what the September 12 military coup did in 1980.

The CHP leader called for a democratic parliamentary system and a constitution free from coup laws.

Constitutional amendments have happened under military coups for the most part, Kılıçdaroğlu said. “Maybe for the first time in Turkey’s history, we can implement a more democratic constitution that everybody accepts, and I mean everybody including the AKP.”

Kılıçdaroğlu said CHP prioritises democracy and an independent judiciary, as well as gender equality, and that the conservative Felicity Party (SP), right-wing Good (İYİ) Party and pro-Kurdish left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were able to come to an agreement on this common ground. 

“It is a fact that we all come from different political traditions. But in the end, we have the advantage of viewing democratic standards through the same lens, which we will utilise … This togetherness needs to continue until democracy comes to Turkey,” said the opposition leader.

Kılıçdaroğlu said Ahmet Davutoğlu and Ali Babacan, two AKP heavyweights who are in the process of forming two breakaway parties, stressing loyalty to ethical values and talking about transparency is important for Turkey’s democracy.

CHP hasn’t met with the IMF in secret, Kılıçdaroğlu said. “Our effort is so the country won’t depend on the IMF.”

“Those calling our talks a secret meeting should look at what they themselves are hiding,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, “Those who sold the Tank Pallet [Factory] to the Qatari Army with a decree not published in the Official Gazette, who don’t let the public know the extra weight brought by foreign currency-based tenders awarded to sycophants, who met with McKinsey behind closed doors say we hold ‘secret meetings’. We are on the side of transparency, have no doubt.”

After 17 years of having overhauled almost all state institutions, including independent ones like the Central Bank, the government cannot blame the bureaucracy, Kılıçdaroğlu said. “Thousands of well-educated experts are now unemployed,” he added. 

“Because everything is run from the Palace,” he said, and gave Special Advisor to the President İbrahim Kalın making statements the ministry of foreign affairs should be making as an example.