New 'discretionary fund' gives Turkey's Erdogan more powers
A new bill passed in the Turkish parliament on Friday will provide President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with a “discretionary fund” to use how he sees fit, despite objections from opposition parties.
The new fund can be used for “state necessities that contain discreet intelligence and defense services; the national security and higher interests of the state; political, social and cultural purposes; and extraordinary services” according to the legislation.
The fund will have no judicial or administrative oversight and its use will be entirely directed by President Erdogan.
AKP group deputy chairman Ahmet Aydın dismissed concerns that there was anything covert or suspect about the new law.
“[The president] has assumed the duty to conduct the missions that need to be done for the higher interest of the state. It is absolutely normal that there are some fund allocations to him to pursue according to these national interests. It should be perceived as normal,” said Aydın.
Development Minister Cevdet Yılmaz added that the fund was given to the president as a function of the post, not given to a person.
However, Republican People’s Party (CHP) group deputy chairman Akif Hamzacebi attacked the legislation as a “presidential coup,” claiming that it would allow the president to gain more control over the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MIT).
“[President Erdoğan] wants to tie the illegal structure inside MIT directly to himself,” said Hamzacebi.
“With this regulation, secret operations will be conducted much more easily under Erdogan’s instruction. This is treason to the parliamentary system and the prime minister.”
He claimed the introduction of the fund means that a “parallel state” has been set-up in the presidential palace.
Similarly, Selahattin Demirtas, the co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), criticised the legislation as “creating a dictatorship not subject to any oversight."
“The security package is its legal basis," he said referring to a controversial set of measures passed by the parliament on Friday.
"The discretionary fund is its budget, while the intelligence-gathering powers and the special army that is being formed is the special security force,” Demirtas said. “That means a separate state. He [Erdogan] has declared his autonomy. He is living in a palace as an autonomous entity within the state.”
The law was passed as part of a larger "omnibus bill" which also included financial incentives for couples marrying under the age of 27 and new measures to restrict internet access if necessary to “defend the right to live, secure property, ensure national security and public order, prevent crime and protect public health.”