The increasingly authoritarian Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has almost completed his palace coup.
In the last few years, the Islamist Erdoğan has taken over the courts, weakened the army to such a degree that it has no power whatsoever, and shut down all dissent in the media. Earlier this year, he got rid of one of the people in his own party who dared resist him — former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu — and replaced him with loyal ally Binali Yildirim. The new prime minister has promised to change Turkey’s constitution, transforming it from a parliamentary system into a “presidential” system in which Erdoğan calls all the shots.
Now it’s time for the last step in Erdoğan’s grand plan for unlimited power: stripping members of parliament of their legal immunity. This opens the door to the prosecution of MPs who dare oppose his policies:
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan approved a bill late June 7 that will lift lawmakers’ immunity from prosecution, paving the way to have the immunities of a score of lawmakers lifted.
The related constitutional amendment was published in the Official Gazette on June 8, opening the way for the trial 152 legislators, amounting to 27.6 percent of the total number of seats.
At this moment, 799 cases have been opened against lawmakers, including the leader of the largest opposition party (Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu) and several deputies from the Kurdish HDP party.
Although it’s clear that Erdoğan will use this opportunity to get rid of all his critics in parliament, the HDP probably rightfully believes they are his first and foremost target:
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said in a statement on June 8 that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s approval of a bill paving the way for the lifting of 152 lawmakers’ immunity, was aimed at excluding the Kurdish-issue focused party from politics.
The HDP said the approval, which was published in the Official Gazette on June 8, was “an anti-constitutional arrangement that specifically aims to exclude the HDP and its MPs from the democratic parliamentary process.”
The Turkish president relied on Kurdish support to win his first election victories, but has turned against them in recent years because they had the audacity to form their own party to protect their interests. Last year, the HDP entered parliament after passing the 10 percent threshold. In Erdoğan’s Turkey, that’s a deadly sin. He intends to take them down by exploiting the law.
Although Europe and the United States held some sway over Erdoğan in the first few years of his administration as prime minister, they’ve lost all power and influence since he became president. He now does as he pleases, pursuing a course to one-man rule. Those who dare stand in his way will be destroyed in one way or another. There is nobody left to stop him.
The EU and the U.S. must reconsider their relationship with Turkey, starting with the country’s membership in NATO. There can be no room in NATO for a country led by an autocrat.
Let Erdoğan join forces with Middle Eastern dictators with whom he has much more in common.