Turkey’s pro-minority rights Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is set to launch a ‘no’ campaign in the upcoming referendum on constitutional change, which foresees a strengthening of Presidential powers.
HDP spokesperson Ayhan Bilgen on Monday declared Turkey’s third largest party’s road map during the referendum and said, “It is possible and imperative to stop Erdogan in a democratic way by saying ‘no'”.
Speaking to the press following his party’s executive committee meeting, Bilgen, who has come to the fore following the imprisonment of the HDP’s co-leaders, said, “There is already pressure on circles who are saying ‘no’. This shows how antidemocratic the process will be.”
The spokesman added that the HDP would organise two large rallies in Istanbul and Diyarbakir to launch the campaign and smaller meetings for 10 days across Turkey in early February. The HDP rejected claims that they would boycott the referendum rather than voting against it.
The 18 article draft bill the HDP and main opposition, Republic People’s Party (CHP) oppose, gives President Erdogan the power to keep ties with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), restructure the nation’s highest judicial body and stay in power until 2029. The President will be also able to appoint top public officials, including ministers, assign vice presidents and declare state of emergency.
Opposition groups have criticised the bill as concentrating too much power in the hands of the President, which will lead to the bypassing of Parliament and erosion of the few existing checks and balances on government, they say.
However the government has defended the reform saying it will strengthen and speed up Turkey’s legislature and enhance its resolve against threats to the country’s unity and stability.
The bill was approved in Parliament on Saturday with the votes of the ruling AKP and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and is likely to be brought to referendum in April.