01/31/2023, 18.29
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Turkish opposition gets ready to challenge Erdogan on 14 May

The "Table of Six" met yesterday to end Erdogan’s 20 years in power. The opposition candidate should be named on 13 February. A 240-page, 2,300-point programme aims to restore parliament’s central role. How Kurds will vote will shape the final outcome.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) –  Turks will go to the polls on 14 May to choose a new president and parliament.

This will provide the country’s opposition with an opportunity to boost its democratic freedoms, much battered during President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s 20-year rule. A former prime minister, the latter combined nationalism and Islam doing much damage to the country.

To this end, six opposition parties, united in the Nation Alliance, better known as the "Table of Six”, met yesterday to finalise a common manifesto and announce that on 13 February, they will present a joint candidate.

The parties, united against Erdogan, are getting ready for the most important challenge in Turkey’s recent political history, one that will be decisive for its future.

Held in the capital, Ankara, yesterday's meeting saw opposition leaders presented a 240-page programme with 2,300 points to roll back many of the changes introduced by Erdogan; they include boosting the powers of parliament and ministers, stripped by Erdogan’s reforms.

The goal is to limit the presidency to a seven-year term, empower the prime minister, and make the latter accountable to parliament.

"We will shift to a strengthened parliamentary system," the programme says. "We will put an end to the president's power to issue decrees."

The elections also represent a key moment for the entire region given Turkey’s membership in NATO and its still strong diplomatic and trading relations with Russia since it did not join the West to impose sanctions over the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine.

The joint candidate of the Table of Six is expected to come from the ranks of the Republican People's Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, CHP), created by modern Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

The opposition plans to reinstate the post-Ottoman constitution but to do so, it will need a two-third majority in the Turkish parliament, the 600-member Grand National Assembly. A vote by 360 MPs can also trigger a constitutional referendum.

However, the polls show strong divisions in the electorate with margins too narrow to predict a possible winner. In addition, the Kurdish question looms large over the election; if and how Kurdish voters, concentrated in the country’s south-east, will cast their ballot will have a major impact.

What is certain is that, even today, thousands of activists, mostly Kurds, are languishing in prison on terrorism-related charges that, according to human rights groups, are just a weapon in Erdogan's hands to suppress dissent.

Other issues that will take centre stage are the fight against corruption and the promise to restore the traditional institutions of the Turkish republic, including state media, which are presently mouthpieces for the current rulers.

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