May 15 2018

Demirtaş vows to end one-man rule in Turkey

The jailed presidential candidate for Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) released an electoral manifesto promising to end President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s one-man rule and bring the country a host of benefits.

“Not I, but WE will do it,” ran HDP candidate Selahattin Demirtaş’s slogan in a manifesto that promises the world to liberal-minded voters willing to cast their lot in with an underdog candidate who has been held in pre-trial detention on terror charges since November 2016.

“Redressing the damage caused by the state of emergency and emergency decree laws” took a prominent place in the manifesto, in which the HDP vowed to end emergency rule immediately if they gain power.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) implemented the state of emergency shortly after the failed July 2016 coup attempt, and has pushed through seven three-month extensions to date.

Thousands have been removed from their positions since the beginning of emergency rule, and Demirtaş has vowed to reinstate those whose sacking is deemed unjust.

His manifesto also promises an end to harsh treatment of prisoners in Turkish jails, where torture has reportedly become commonplace. All detainees suffering from serious illness will also be immediately released “without discrimination”, it said.

Demirtaş intends to fulfil his manifesto’s opening-line promise to end one-man rule in part through the symbolic move of turning over the Presidential Palace over to public use.

Construction of the massive 1,150 room complex was completed in 2014, the year that Erdoğan was elected as president after serving for around 11 years as prime minister.

Opposition politicians have criticised the huge expenditure on the lavishly decorated structure, and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP)’s presidential candidate, Muharrem İnce, has vowed to use the structure as a university.

The HDP candidate has also promised moves to ensure judicial independence and autonomy at universities.

Turkey has been listed as one of the world’s worst countries for rule of law, in part due to its lack of constraints on government powers. After an emergency decree law granted the president the power to handpick university rectors, higher education in the country faces similar struggles.