Turkey’s Nation Alliance on Monday shared a 12-point agreement detailing steps towards Turkey’s transition from the current presidential system to a democratic system.
The agreement was made public after the six-party alliance named its presidential candidate for 14 May elections as Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Turkey’s presidential system, designed in accordance with the wishes of the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was approved via a referendum in 2017 and went into effect following the 2018 elections.
The presidential system is criticised for giving the president extensive powers, which in practice leads to a single-man rule with all decisions ultimately made by one person.
The opposition alliance has for months been working on a plan to introduce a new strengthened parliamentary system if they win the electoral race.
In the first article of the roadmap, the leaders of the six parties state that they will govern the country through consultations and consensus in accordance with principles and targets agreed under the new system, which include the rule of law, the separation of powers, and checks and balances.
Party leaders promised to complete the parliamentary process needed for transition to the system as soon as the elections are over, in the second article of the roadmap.
During this transition process, the five party leaders will be overseen by Kılıçdaroğlu as vice presidents in the cabinet, according to article 3.
The design and form of a Nation Alliance cabinet has been discussed for months in Turkey. The five parties that make up the alliance each have very different levels of public support. It is the first time two of the parties have competed in elections.
According to the agreement, at least one minister from each party will represent in the new cabinet and remaining ministries will be distributed among the parties according to the respective share of votes secured in the May elections.
All political boards and offices that were established under the presidential system to replace ministries will also be immediately abolished. The president will be responsible for appointing and removing ministers in consultation with party leaders.
A new Nation Alliance president will use powers in accordance with the principles of participation, consultation, and consensus. The powers of the cabinet members will be identified in relevant presidential decrees.
On critical issues like declaring a state of emergency, national security, and the appointment of senior officials, decisions will be made through consultations with all parties in the alliance. Mechanisms will be established for the coordination of the transition process.
Turkey’s presidential system allows a new president to continue as the leader of their political party. According to the Nation Alliance’s roadmap, Kılıçdaroğlu will be allowed to remain as the leader of the CHP until the completion of the transition process, but afterwards will resign from his position of chairman.
The president and the parliament will complete a term of five years, no elections will be held until the term is completed.
The final article of the agreement resolves an important disagreement among the parties in the alliance. According to article twelve, Ekrem İmamoğlu, the mayor of İstanbul, and Mansur Yavaş, the mayor of the Turkish capital Ankara, will be appointed as vice presidents “at a time and with defined duties deemed appropriate by the president”.
The Nation Alliance came close to splitting last week, after Meal Akşener, the leader of the centre-right Good Party, opposed Kılıçdaroğlu as presidential candidate and insisted on nominating either İmamoğlu or Yavaş instead.
The CHP objected to naming metropolitan mayors of Turkey’s largest provinces’ as presidential candidates, as that would result in their mayoral seats being filled by someone from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which holds a majority in both municipal assemblies.
Moreover, İmamoğlu was sentenced to more than two years in prison and banned from politics by a Turkish court in December. The decision has been appealed, but any decision of a higher court against the mayor in coming weeks could have forced him to quit the election race had he been nominated as the opposition’s candidate.
After two-days of intense negotiations, Akşener returned to the table and agreed on Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy, but only after a compromise was reached about the political destiny of the mayors.
Some commentators in Turkey on Monday night speculated that the compromise mentions the name of İmamoğlu and Yavaş as future vice presidents but critically leaves the final decision to Kılıçdaroğlu, implying a possibility that he might choose not to appoint either mayor to the cabinet.
However, during Kılıçdaroğlu’s speech to his supporters at CHP headquarters on Monday night, İmamoğlu and Yavaş were invited to the stage and announced as future vice presidents.