Turkey’s opposition parties underperforming in parliament – analysis

While Turkey’s opposition parties criticise the new executive presidential system for leaving the parliament less powerful, their performance during votes over various bills at the parliament has been disappointing, said analyst Can Selçuki in Duvar English on Friday.

Since Turkey’s executive presidential system entered into force following presidential and parliamentary elections in 2018, the number of presidential decrees issued have surpassed the number of laws that have been enacted by the parliament, Selçuki said.

The number of draft legislation proposed by the opposition to be enacted into law is zero, while the lawmakers are largely stripped off their powers to scrutinise appointed ministers. 

“Whilst the opposition is criticising the government for rendering the parliament less powerful, their turn out performance during voting of various legislation at the general assembly tell a different story,” Selçuki said.

On average, 47 percent of Turkey’s 589 lawmakers were present in 38 votes that took place since the elections on June 24, 2018, according to an analysis of pollster Istanbul Ekonomi Araştırma published on Nov. 28.

The average participation rate of lawmakers from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its coalition partner the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) was 75 percent and 48 percent respectively. The rate of participation stood at 17 percent for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and at 24 percent for the nationalist opposition the Good Party. Meanwhile, the average turnout for pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) was 9 percent. 

“This is where it gets interesting, if all MPs of all the opposition parties were present, 15 of the 38 votes would be in favour of the opposition,” Selçuki said.

This was the case last month, when the Turkish parliament approved an article of an omnibus bill postponing the requirement for fitting chimney filters and gas purification systems in thermal power plants for two-and-a-half years.

According to the report of environmental rights group 350 Ankara, the amendment could be voted down if all lawmakers from the opposition parties were present in parliament. The group said 114 lawmakers out of 139 from the CHP, 58 lawmakers out of 62 from the HDP and 32 lawmakers out of 39 from the Good Party had been absent during the vote.

The postponement, which created an outrage in Turkey, was later vetoed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan due to pressure also coming from the AKP supporters, despite the fact that it was approved by AKP and MHP votes. 

According to Selçuki, “this shows that if the opposition is to criticise the government for by-passing the parliament, first they need to actually show up to vote.”