Turkey’s opposition parties vow to restore parliamentary power and curtail the presidency

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The leaders of six opposition parties in Turkey vowed to bring back parliamentary democracy and abolish the executive presidential system introduced by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan three years ago.

At a ceremony in Ankara, the leaders of the parties put their signatures to a 48-page statement reaffirming their determination to introduce a strengthened parliamentary system should they oust Mr Erdogan in the elections currently scheduled for June 2023.

Mr Erdogan, who has been in office since 2003, first as prime minister and since 2014 as president, introduced a presidential system in 2018 that abolished the post of prime minister and concentrated most powers in the hands of the president.

The office of President had hitherto been a largely ceremonial post.

The opposition has blamed Mr Erdogan’s system, which it says amounts to “one-man rule”, for Turkey‘s problems, including an economic downturn and an erosion of rights and freedoms.

The presidential system was narrowly approved in a referendum in 2017 and installed after the 2018 elections.

The Bosphorus in Istanbul, (Emrah Gurel/AP)

The new system envisaged by the six opposition parties would revitalize the post of prime minister and restore the president’s largely token powers, party officials said at the ceremony.

It provides for a stronger separation of powers, including a stronger legislative and supervisory role for Parliament and an independent judiciary.

It also promises transparency and greater rights and freedoms, including women’s rights.

The statement was signed by Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party; Meral Aksener of the nationalist Good Party; Temel Karamollaoglu of the conservative Felicity Party; Gultekin Uysal from the Democratic Party; Ali Babacan from the Democracy and Progress Party; and Ahmet Davutoglu from Future Party.

Mr Davutoglu and Mr Babacan were co-founders of Erdogan’s ruling party and served in top positions before splitting from the movement over criticism of Erdogan’s policies.

Turkey’s second largest opposition party, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, was excluded from the statement.

The government accuses the party of links to outlawed Kurdish militants, and many of its members, including their former leaders, have been jailed.

Mr Erdogan has in the past accused the Republican People’s Party of siding with “terrorists”.

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