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Ruling AK Party unveils manifesto for June elections

Premier Davutoglu introduces 'New Turkey Convention,' which focuses on human dignity, equal citizenship, a new civilian constitution, presidential system and fight against 'parallel state.'

Ruling AK Party unveils manifesto for June elections


Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has announced  the election declaration of his Justice and Development, or AK Party and introduced its candidates for the upcoming June 7 general elections.

"We aim to make a new breakthrough for both our nation and humanity via our civilization call," he said Wednesday in a promotion meeting at Ankara Arena Sports Hall.

At the meeting, the premier read the 100-article election manifesto called the "New Turkey Convention," which features the AK Party's main campaign themes such as state protection of human dignity, equal citizenship, the drafting of a new constitution, the implementation of a presidential system, and measures towards a human-oriented economic development.

The premier stressed the need for a  civilian constitution for Turkey, saying that it would be first on the Turkish Parliament's agenda should the Justice and Development be successful in the general elections in June.

The 2015 parliamentary elections are of key importance to the AK Party government as it seeks to work with the parliament to draft a new constitution as Davutoglu has promised to replace the current one, which was written after the 1980 military coup.

Above all, the election manifesto of the ruling party includes the introduction of a presidential system, for which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been pushing in order to replace the current parliamentary one. 

Davutoglu maintained that they "deem it necessary to reconstructure Turkey's administrative system towards a presidential system so as to obviate the chaos of authority and actually restore accountability."

"We think the presidential system as an administrative model where legislative and executive powers are independently active and where there are democratic balance and control mechanisms," he added.

The AK Party does not have enough seats in Parliament to vote for a constitutional change such as the introduction of a presidential system.

According to the current Turkish Constitution, such a change requires the approval of two-thirds (367) of the (550) lawmakers. Only then can the president approve it or hold a referendum on the matter. 

Turkish citizens voted in a referendum in 2007 to be able to elect their president by popular vote.

He maintained that human rights and freedoms would be the focus of the new constitutional order. The manifesto describes the concepts of freedom and security as not opposing but complementary.

As expected, Davutoglu revealed the other significant part of the election manifesto as the government's fight against the so-called "parallel state," which refers to a purported group of Turkish bureaucrats and senior officials embedded in the country's institutions, including the judiciary and police, who are allegedly trying to undermine the elected Turkish government.

"The sovereignty of a parallel state or any power that does not gain its legitimacy from the nation is unacceptable," he said, as the manifesto describes a nation of equal citizens as the sole source and supervisor of the political legitimacy. 

"There will remain no power that is not controlled and supervised," he added.

Davutoglu stressed that no horizontal or parallel organization must be allowed to emanate within Turkish bureaucracy.

The manifesto announced by Davutoglu also brings forth equal citizenship as principle of the human dignity.

"We are the principal owners and equal citizens of Turkey as the descendants of those who founded the Republic," he said.

Davutoglu also dismissed in a "New Turkey" any discrimination based on people's faith, color, gender, language, race, political view, philosophical mindset or life style. 

The manifesto also emphasizes the sense of belonging of the citizens, calling it the main guarantee for the continuity of  a state that does not exclude or alienate any of their citizens.

"It is the sense of belonging that sustains a state, and then its economic, political and military power that strengthens it," said Davutoglu.

Davutoglu also called upon the opposition parties to convey their opinions on their election manifesto.

Following the manifesto read-out, he presented its 550 candidates, 99 of whom are women, to the public.

He promoted their main election mottos "Always Justice Always Development,"  and songs like "New Turkey," which has long been the slogan of the AK Party government led by Davutoglu.

The AK Party was victorious in last year’s March local elections and its then leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed the presidential election in August 2014. In the 2011 general elections, the AK Party received almost 50 percent of the votes.

Approximately 56 million Turkish citizens will vote on June 7 in the country's 25th general elections to elect 550 lawmakers of the Turkish Parliament. Turkey had held general elections every five years until a 2007 constitutional change which set elections for every four years.

 Pope remarks over 1915 incidents

During his speech, the premier also touched upon the remarks made Sunday by Pope Francis over the 1915 events, in which he said “the first genocide of the 20th century” had struck Armenians.

"We are ready to talk about historical incidents but we will allow nobody to insult or blackmail our nation over historical disputes," he said. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also condemned Pope's remarks on Wednesday by saying "I would like to warn the honorable Pope not to make such a mistake again."

Pope Francis' statement led Turkey to recall its ambassador to the Vatican and also to summon the Vatican's envoy in Ankara.

The 1915 events took place during World War I when a portion of the Armenian population living in the Ottoman Empire sided with the invading Russians and revolted against the empire.

The Ottoman Empire relocated Armenians in eastern Anatolia following the revolts and there were Armenian casualties during the relocation process.

Armenia has demanded an apology and compensation, while Turkey has officially refuted Armenian allegations over the incidents saying that, although Armenians died during the relocations, many Turks also lost their lives in attacks carried out by Armenian gangs in Anatolia.

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