Turkish opposition bloc announces election manifesto

The Nation Alliance, which consists of six opposition parties in Turkey, has announced its election manifesto titled “Consensus Text of Joint Policies.” The main opposition bloc’s manifesto includes more than 2,300 pledges on 75 issues.

Serkan Alan / DUVAR

The Nation Alliance, six opposition parties that are united to change Turkey’s presidential regime to parliamentary system, on Jan. 30 announced its election manifesto “Consensus Text of Joint Policies.” 

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, center-right İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener, Islamist Felicity (Saadet) Party leader Temel Karamollaoğlu, Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) leader Ali Babacan, Future (Gelecek) Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu, and Democrat Party leader Gültekin Uysal signed the text in the event that was held in capital Ankara.

The manifesto included more than 2,300 pledges on 75 issues should they come to power in the upcoming election.

There were nine main topics the bloc focused on: The law; public administration; anti-corruption and transparency; economy, finance and employment; science, R&D, innovation, digital transformation; education; social policies; foreign policy, defense, security and migration; sectoral policies.

The alliance, also known as the Table of Six, have met regularly since Feb. 2022 and discussed how they will transform the presidential system of the country should they come to power. 

CHP deputy chair Faik Öztrak was the first one that took the chair and explained the steps to be taken regarding merit and corruption.

Öztrak also said that the president will be elected only once for seven years and the prime ministry will be reintroduced. 

Öztrak stated that they will abolish the Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) and will establish two separate boards of which the Justice Minister will not be a part. 

“We will take the necessary measures to ensure that the detention is an exception. We will lower the electoral threshold to three percent. We will ensure freedom of the press. We will abolish the offices and boards of the Presidency,” he added.

He also said they will end the practice of appointing trustees.

Finance and Treasure Ministry will be separated and the Corruption Investigation Commission will be established within the Parliament, according to the manifesto.

Then DEVA Party deputy chair İbrahim Çanakçı explained the policies on economy, finance and employment.

Çanakçı stated that they will end the increasing cost of living, fight inflation without compromise, double the per capita income in five years, create five million new jobs and end poverty.

“We will move the Presidency back to Çankaya (from the new palace). We will open the palaces allocated to the Presidency for the use of the public. We will sell planes registered to the Presidency and buy planes to fight with forest fires. We will use our country's resources for irrigation projects for agriculture instead of projects like Kanal Istanbul,” he added.

Accordingly, the Central Bank will be responsible for only maintaining price and financial stability. "We will prevent the bank's senior management from being dismissed outside of its own law. We will follow the missing $128 billion in state funds," Çanakçı said.

Democrat Party deputy chair Bülent Şahinalp explained the policies on education and science.

Şahinalp said they will abolish the Council of Higher Education’s (YÖK) and ensure academic freedom. Accordingly, grants for graduate students will be increased.

“We will provide 5 GB of free internet per month to all students. We will provide fiber internet connection to every school. We will protect freedom of expression on social media,” he said.

Şahinalp said they will fix the housing problem for students by increasing the number of dormitories. Also, the bloc will combat against the brain drain, according to the manifesto.

Then Future Party deputy chair Feridun Bilgin took the stage and explained the policies on culture, agriculture, environment and energy.

Bilgin said they will end festival bans, prepare regulations on copyrights, establish a national fleet to fight forest fires, double the number of green areas per capita, create a new mining law, implement the law on animal rights.

“We will rapidly implement the necessary regulations in order to protect our small shopkeepers against chain markets, large markets and shopping malls and to prevent unfair competition,” Bilgin said.

“We will regulate incentives for renewable energy, taking into account the green energy transition. We will evaluate all alternatives in wind energy. We will cancel the Kanal Istanbul project on the day we take office. We will make Atatürk Airport suitable for flight again,” he added.

Bilgin added that they will not build a new thermal power plant.

"We will repeal the article in the Forest Law that authorizes the President to change the nature of the forest area. We will enact an urban transformation law and immediately implement a program on this matter, starting with the most risky areas in terms of earthquakes and floods," he said.

İYİ Party deputy chair Ümit Özlale explained the social policies of the bloc. 

Özlale said they will provide free meals and milk to all students in public schools, young people will not pay for passport fees and women will be on administrative leave on March 8 (International Women’s Day).

"We will provide food and hygiene support to poor families with babies. We will implement the national parenting program, telling all our citizens how to raise a child," Özlale said.

Stating that the Women, Family and Children Ministry will be established, he said that all international agreements will be ratified again. "We know that the Istanbul Convention will keep us alive,” he added.

Özlale later said his remarks on the Istanbul Convention were not scripted. There is no mention of the Convention on the published text as well.

Lastly, Felicity Party deputy chair Sabri Tekir explained the policies on foreign affairs and migration.

Tekir said they will work in full dialogue with the relevant countries in the process of full membership to the European Union and that they will meet with the relevant parties to find a solution to the problems between Israel and Palestine.

“We will prevent irregular migration and not allow our country to become a buffer zone. We will increase the number and capacity of repatriation centers. We will ensure that Syrians under temporary protection return to their countries as soon as possible under control,” he said.

He said the Consitutional Court (AYM) and the ECHR rulings will be implemented immediately. Accordingly, the judges and prosecutors who, by misconduct, cause the violation of rights according to the AYM or the ECHR, and sentencing the state to pay compensation, will pay that compensation.

Woman was mentioned 94 times in the text, whereas there was no mention of the Kurdish problem.

The alliance is expected announce their joint presidential candidate on Feb. 13.

The full text of the manifesto in Turkish. The English version of the text is not available yet.

(English version by Alperen Şen)