Turkey’s pro-Kurdish HDP leader vows to block Erdogan’s presidential system ambitions / DEMIRTAS GOT NEW ORDERS FROM KANDIL


ISTANBUL,— Selahattin Demirtas, the co-leader of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), gave one of his shortest speeches ever on Tuesday as he chaired the party’s weekly parliamentary group meeting, repeatedly promising not to let President Recep Tayyip Erdogan assume power under a new presidential system that he covets.Demirtas told the weekly gathering in Parliament: “Today, I am here to say just one thing. Perhaps, we will have the shortest meeting in the HDP’s history. We are not a party of bargaining. There has never been dirty bargaining between us and the [Justice and Development Party] AKP, nor will there ever be.

Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as long as the HDP exists, as long as HDP members breathe in this land, you will not be the president [under a presidential system],” he said.Demirtas’s HDP has been subject to accusations of a secret bargain with the AK Party for an overhaul of the Constitution, under which Turkey would shift to a presidential system that would give Erdogan extensive powers, in exchange for which the Kurds will supposedly be granted key demands such as autonomy. A controversial HDP decision to run in the upcoming elections as a party, instead of individual candidates as it did in the past, has fueled speculations that the HDP is bent on giving the AK Party enough of a parliamentary majority to pass the constitutional amendments to pave the way for a presidential system as part of their “secret bargain.” Erdogan desires a switch from the current parliamentary system of governance to a presidential system that would boost the president’s executive powers at the expense of Parliament and the government. Erdogan says this will pave the way for more effective governance, while critics say he seeks to monopolize power and would worsen Turkey’s drift to authoritarianism.

“Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, we will not allow you to become president,” Demirtas said, repeating the sentence three times before concluding the HDP meeting in Parliament.