The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his remarks that the government would appoint a trustee to elected HDP mayors after March polls “if they are linked to terror” and suggested it was “blackmail to voters and harms confidence in democracy.”
Meanwhile, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) supported the president.
CHP Deputy Group Chair Özgür Özel noted that anyone who has a criminal record cannot be a candidate for local elections, but if one threatens to assign a trustee, even for the elected, then the country is ruled “without democracy.”
If the candidate is able to run for the elections, he or she should have a record clear of any proven evidence of crime.
“If he [Erdoğan] had no shame, he would assign the mayors and would not even allow any elections,” Özel said.
Erdoğan is “telling voters they should vote for his will, or he will discharge whoever is elected,” the CHP deputy group chair said.
“It is a civil coup d’etat to the local elections,” he said.
HDP Deputy Group Chair Ayhan Bilgen suggested politicians are trying to cover the difficulties in Turkey’s economy by political teasing. The legality of a party that has received six million votes cannot be decided by another party, he said.
“If this is their approach, then they better not hold elections and [instead] give accreditation and determine the candidates according to a given list,” Bilgen said.
He recalled that there are states where elections have no function at all and have no respect in the international world, adding that the president’s remarks are a “declaration that the High Election Board and Constitutional Court have no meaning.”
“What does it mean to have ‘terror-links?’” the HDP depupty group chair said, adding that it was an ambiguous expression aiming at “creating fear and blocking voters from realize their will” and that this attitude is unfair to Turkey.
MHP Deputy Group Chair Erkan Akçay welcomed Erdoğan’s statement and said those “having links to terror should not be in these duties.”
“Whether he is a mayor or a public servant, one should not make concessions to those insisting on having terror-links,” said Akçay.