A report prepared by the Unity for Democracy Initiative (DİB) has concluded that national TV stations across Turkey broadcast live speeches by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials for a total of 470 hours in the past 20 days.
According to the report 17 national TV stations, including the state-run TRT, Kanal D, CNNTürk, Fox TV and HaberTürk, had broadcast Erdoğan’s live speeches for a total of 169 hours from March 1 to March 20. Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and other AKP officials were given 301 hours, 30 minutes of airtime during the same period.
The Republican People’s Party (CHP) was allotted 45.5 hours of airtime, while the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) was given 15 hours, in total.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), on the other hand, received no air time in pre-referendum broadcasts for the last 20 days.
In January, Turkey’s Parliament passed the constitutional amendments, later approved by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, that would transform the political order into an executive-style presidential system, effectively widening the scope of powers of the position.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), backed by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), pushed through the legislation that President Erdoğan says will bring the strong leadership needed to prevent a return of the fragile coalition governments of the past.
The Republican People’s Party (CHP) and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) fear the reform will fuel authoritarianism.
Parliament’s approval paved the way for a nationwide referendum on the amendments, which would give the president, a traditionally more ceremonial role, the power to dismiss ministers and Parliament, issue decrees, declare emergency rule and appoint figures to key positions, including the judiciary.
It would also allow the president to be a member of a political party, which is currently prohibited under the constitution as the presidency is expected to exercise impartiality.