May 19 2018

Main opposition party unveils election manifesto

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on Saturday unveiled its election manifesto ahead of the June 24 presidential polls in a campaign rally in the northern coastal city of Samsun, secular Cumhuriyet daily reported.

CHP presidential candidate Muharrem İnce announced that the CHP aimed to establish the values of the republic and the absolute sovereignty of the people through five different pillars: justice, democracy, economy, foreign policy and education.

İnce vowed that in regard to justice, the first step would be lifting the state of emergency, which was implemented following the July 15, 2016 coup attempt and has paved the way for  mass arrests, arbitrary sackings and forms of  “collective punishment”. The U.N. human rights office have stated that Turkey has arrested 160,000 people and dismissed an equivalent number of civil servants since a failed coup.

İnce stated that the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) would be restructured, that the Minister of Justice and deputies would no longer work with the council and that practices such as illegal telephone tapping would come to an end.

The CHP candidate stressed there would be a strong parliamentary regime with civil society at the forefront.  ‘’The media will cease to be a political vehicle for the collection of power,’’ İnce said, in an apparent reference to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s chokehold over media. İnce also promised a fight against all terrorist groups threatening Turkey.  

The June 24 presidential election is set to usher in a new presidential system – approved in a referendum last year – which grants the president extensive powers. Opposition parties have been outspoken critics of the system pushed for by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

İnce also took on Turkey’s economy, in which inflation has accelerated into double digits, around triple the amount of emerging market average, while its account deficit has widened to almost 6 percent of GDP, raising concern that the economy is overheating and heading for a crash. 

‘’Within three-and-a-half years we will create at least five global brands. And within five years unemployment will drop to five percent,’’ İnce said.

Turkey’s unemployment rate rose to 10.8 percent in January while it was at 13 percent a year ago, elevated due to the 2016 military coup and its aftermath. 

İnce vowed to tackle Turkey’s foreign policy issues, saying he planned to develop ties with the West and EU based on the national interest and was looking towards finding a fair solution in Cyprus,  which has been split between a Greek Cypriot administration in the south, recognised internationally as the government of the whole island, and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot government in the north recognised by Turkey, following a Turkish invasion of the northern third of Cyprus in 1974.

The CHP candidate also spoke about raising Turkey’s minimum wage to 2,200 liras from the current 1,603 liras and encouraging free thought in arts and culture, which have been stifled by censorship under Erdoğan’s leading Justice and Development Party (AKP).