Serkan Alan/ DUVAR

Following Turkey’s transformation into an executive presidential system submitting a parliamentary question has been the only means that deputies have of inspecting and receiving information from the government. Parliamentary questions were previously submitted to Vice President Fuat Oktay, who would then send them to the relevant ministries and return the answers to the deputies. 

However, as of January 2020, Oktay has declined to deliver parliamentary questions to the ministries, telling deputies to do it themselves. He declined to answer a question from main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Ömer Fethi Gürer regarding the reconstruction of a train line in the provincial capital of Ankara, instead instructing Gürer to take the question to the Ministry of Transportation. 

Oktay also refused to answer a questioned submitted by CHP deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu and pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Oya Ersoy regarding photographs that surfaced of an Ankara University political science teaching assistant pointing a gun toward the department building. Oktay said that they had to ask the Ministry of Education. 

“At the moment as deputies are getting limited responses to questions regarding local and general issues. Previously, because Fuat Oktay was sending them to the ministries, they were required to respond. If they were not directly sent to the ministries, they would not get answered. I don’t know why they changed their mind on this topic. By doing this, they are obstructing the right of citizens to access information,” Gürer said. 

“We aren’t just asking these questions for the purpose of getting answers. By conducting research ourselves we know the answers to most of them. We are submitting these parliamentary questions in order to show them to the public. For that reason Fuat Oktay and the Interior Ministry shouldn’t think that they are being saved from these questions by not answering,” Ersoy said.