Turkish main opposition CHP prioritizes economy, nationalization in repair plan for government

As the Turkish economy and political sphere continue to flounder, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has laid out its plan for its first year of governance. In it, the party prioritizes remedying the economy, fighting corruption, nationalizing critical industries, and reversing many AKP policies put in place under the presidential system. But will it be enough to reverse the damage of 19 years of the AKP rule?

Main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and his wife Selvi Kılıçdaroğlu are seen in this photo from a 2017 rally.

Bahadır Özgür / DUVAR

As the Turkish economy hits an all-time low and the government is increasingly losing the support of the Turkish people, citizens are looking towards the opposition to see how they plan to fix the debris left by 19 years of Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule.

In a newly released plan outlining its first year of rule, the main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), has done just that. Will it stick to their party platform, or will it take more radical steps to reverse AKP policy? Has the CHP planned an “emergency prescription” to fix a collapsing Turkey?

It is worth noting that a plan is just that - a plan. It is likely that this will undergo many changes and amendments before it reaches its final form. However, getting a better sense of their goals gives insight into what CHP rule, if it defeats the ruling People’s Alliance, could look like.

Changes to the political and legal system

The CHP plans to make several major changes to the political and legal system put in place by the AKP. The AKP has enacted sweeping changes to the legal system, particularly since the coup attempt of 2016. Particularly powerful in this arena has been the changes enacted with the constitutional referendum of 2018: making presidential decrees legally binding, giving the president control of judicial appointments, and vastly expanding presidential powers. 

As such, the CHP plans to enact significant change, beginning with a Political Ethics Law, intended to curb illegal behavior in governance. It will also put all legislation “devoid of legal basis” enacted after the July 15 coup attempt up for legal review. 

It will also separate the central and local governments, which have been closely intertwined politically under the AKP. Local governments, under the CHP plan, would be kept away from the central administration. Further, institutions critical to public interest privatized under the AKP will again be nationalized, and the rights of citizens who have been removed from their professions by the government - such as after the coup attempt - will be restored.

Fingerprints will also be reinstated in voting for election security. 

Press and freedom of thought

Dozens of journalists and writers are imprisoned in Turkey for their work, while thousands more have been investigated or put on trial. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been investigated for crimes such as “insulting the president,” many instances of which occurred on social media. 

Under the CHP plan, all censorship of the press and social media enacted by the AKP would be removed. The closing or blocking of websites - a common tactic used by the current government - would be made more difficult. All journalists imprisoned for crimes of thought would also be freed.

This would mean a rethinking of the “security-freedom” balance in Turkish law, and would also require the amendment of many other aspects of the Turkish legal system.

In-depth tax regulation

The most prominent issue in the CHP plan is the economy, and one of its critical means of doing so would be by expanding income tax brackets to benefit low-income groups. The plan would also reduce the tax burden on essential goods.


Agriculture is another one of the most broadly-covered topics in the draft. The changes, taken together, would aim to better the economic situation for agricultural producers throughout Turkey and mark a shift back to a more nationalized system.

Base product prices for agricultural goods will be determined a year prior to harvest, and a product purchase guarantee would be given for critical crops such as cereals and legumes. Agricultural support payments will be paid to producers in advance before October each year.

No agricultural vehicles will be confiscated under the plan, and all taxes and bank commissions deducted from payments that directly support income, such as purchases of diesel and fertilizer, will be removed. Further, no special consumption tax will be collected from diesel fuel purchases used in agricultural production.

National agricultural organizations such as the “Meat and Milk Institution” and “Çay-Kur,” a tea production conglomerate, will be restructured. The state-run Ziraat Bank will be limited to its founding purpose - to provide low-cost loans to farmers. Further, a technical agricultural expert will be assigned to each village.

Industry and infrastructure

Under the AKP-led government, government agencies such as the housing agency TOKİ and private companies connected to the President, such as Cengiz Holding Company, have played an outsized role in the development of industry and infrastructure in the country. The government, in the past 19 years, has famously encouraged development by private tender, often handed to those connected to the ruling coalition.

Under the CHP draft plan, some of this responsibility would be returned to the state. The government would establish a Ministry of Technology and Infrastructure, which would be supported by companies such as Turkcell, to better infrastructure in the company. 

The government would also establish new Organized Industrial Zones (OIZ), but TOKİ would not be responsible for their construction. Rather, an organization called FABKA would construct these workplaces and industrialists would pay off the cost with low-interest rates over seven years. The state would also cover the energy costs of the municipality, private sector, and OIZ water treatment plants, and would establish vocational schools, kindergartens, and health centers in the OIZs. 

The state under the CHP would also re-established subsidized bread and pasta factories that would only serve the public. 

Small businesses

The CHP plan would establish a Ministry of Trade, which would reimburse tradesmen for interest paid on loans during the pandemic and regulate further taxation on trade. Invoices paid by tradesmen to the state would also be returned. Tax withholding on rent would also be removed.


In light of rising gas prices and worsening winters, the CHP plan would provide fuel aid to citizens in need over the age of 65 between October and March. The Turkish Electricity Transmission Corporation, which was privatized by the AKP, would be nationalized and the 18% VAT tax collected on electricity would be reduced to 1%. Further, there will be no VAT or SCT (special consumption tax) paid by citizens on natural gas consumption.

The plan also encourages energy efficiency - there will be no VAT or SCT paid by citizens on electric and hybrid cars, and loss-leakage and meter-reading costs for electricity will not be reflected on citizens’ bills.  


Under the CHP plan, all vehicles transporting more than 12 tons of cargo will be given “diesel support,” and regulations will be put in place to support heavy-duty truck drivers who are over 65 years of age and cannot obtain an SRC Trucking certificate or a digital certification.

Further, vehicle inspection fees, sky-high under the AKP, will be reduced. 

Social and work policies

Social policies laid out by the CHP also reflect the importance of bettering the Turkish economy. Under the draft plan, it would be illegal for workers to be consistently employed for minimum wage. Those who start at minimum wage would need to have wage increases every five years - employers would receive a special tax incentive to ensure this.

During the determination of minimum wage, union workers would be allowed to strike, and the right of civil servants to strike would be constitutionally guaranteed. Further, limits imposed on union organization in the past 19 years would be abolished. 


In light of the coronavirus pandemic and the toll it took on Turkey’s health system, the CHP would prioritize strengthening and nationalizing Turkey’s health system. Patient contributions and “difference fees” in health and medicine would be removed, lowering the cost to patients.

Pharmaceutical, vaccine, serum, and medical device production would be considered strategic sectors in Turkey and would be supported as such. Genetic testing given to couples before marriage would be free, and all genetic testing given during pregnancy would also be mandatory and free. 


The draft CHP plan also outlines extensive support for families and newly married couples. For newly married couples buying property, VAT tax on their first house would be halved. Further, married couples would be given rent support for the first six months of their marriage, up to a limit. 

All matters concerning the family, under the CHP plan, would require the signature of both parties in a couple. Further, a single spouse would not be able to act alone in deciding to invest or make major purchases.

The plan also introduces measures to combat domestic violence, which is at historically high rates in Turkey. Married couples will be required to be observed for psycho-social competence, in the hope that this would prevent violence and ensure a healthy marriage in the long run.


The proposed CHP plan includes extensive allowances for young people in Turkey, who have been hard hit by AKP policies. Recently, students have protested that they cannot find affordable housing near their universities, or afford to live in the cities where they study. 

The plan would give all students currently studying free access to transportation and every young person over the age of eighteen who enrolls in university would be given an allowance of 1,000 TL to attend culture and arts events. Further, young people would no longer be required to pay passport issuance fees or departure fees when they leave Turkey.

Young people would also receive significant tax benefits. There would be no SCT charged on a young person’s first game console or mobile phone, and no tax would be charged on a young person’s first internet subscription. Further, youth will not be required to pay SCT on their first new car, and the state would cover tax and premiums payments for new graduates for two years when they first enter a job. In case of the death of an insured family member, young people would also continue to benefit from that insurance until their first day at a job that provides insurance.

The plan also includes measures to boost youth participation in agriculture and local industry. Economic support would be given to young people who return to the villages where they were born to establish livestock and agriculture enterprises and cooperatives. These businesses would also be tax-exempt for three years.

Notably, the plan also addresses the high number of young people in Turkey who die in motorcycle and traffic accidents. Motorcycle licenses would be issues, henceforth, based on engine volume. It will not be possible to receive a motorcycle license for a high-volume bike without first graduating from a low-volume motorcycle license. This is intense to lower the number of young people that die using bikes without proper experience. 


Under the rule of the AKP in the past 19 years, women have lost significant social standing. Femicide is at record highs, and those that perpetuate violence against women often walk free. The draft CHP plan would aim to reduce violence against women, while also improving their social and professional standing.

Perpetrators of femicide - those that kill women - will not be eligible for sentence reduction or reduction for good behavior in prison. 

Further, a quota of at least 33% would be required in public administration, and tax reductions would be given to private sector companies that have at least 35% female management and senior-level employees. Rental support would be given to women’s NGOs and March 8th, International Working Women’s Day, would be a public holiday.

Environment and Urbanization

Turkey’s environment and national land have come under intense threat in two decades of AKP tenure. This summer, in a recent, visible reminder of this, after historic wildfires ravaged Turkey’s south, forested areas in Turkey were signed over to the Ministry of Tourism for development. 

Under the CHP plan, areas that are or were forested would not be able to be developed. Further, hotels build on previously forested lands would be demolished and those responsible for the development would be punished within the Turkish legal system. Investments of those individuals or companies who have converted forested areas into private properties based on legal exceptions would be nationalized, as well. The government will support “reliable” NGOs such as TEMA, working to protect Turkey’s wildlife.

Areas damaged by fire and sold to private companies via tender in the past 19 years will be expropriated to the state, and all mines that have continued to operate despite negative environmental impact reports will be closed. 

The plan would establish a Ministry of Ecological Tourism and Policies, and would also implement a comprehensive animal rights law.