MHP says party backs parliamentary system after leader sparks presidential system debate

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This handout picture taken and released by the Turkey's Presidential Press Service on August 7, 2016 at Yenikapi district of Istanbul shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) shaking hands with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli (2L) as Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (R) stands before attending a rally held to protest against the July 15 failed coup. / AFP PHOTO / TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL PRESS OFFICE / STR / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / TURKEY'S PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

A senior official from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has sought to revise earlier remarks from party leader Devlet Bahçeli that sparked a debate about a switch to a presidential system in Turkey, saying that the MHP in fact supports a parliamentary system.

Bahçeli said in a statement on Tuesday that there is a de facto presidential system in Turkey and that the final decision for a change in system should be made by the people in a referendum.

One day after Bahçeli’s remarks, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said his Justice and Development Party (AKP) would submit its own draft constitution for parliamentary approval, including a change to a presidential system.

The senior MHP official who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity said his party actually supports a parliamentary system, which is currently in effect in Turkey, but that what Bahçeli did on Tuesday was call for an end to the confusion over the status of the president in the country.

“There is an illegal situation in Turkey now. The president admits that he is operating in an executive presidency. In doing this, he is violating the Constitution. Our party leader Bahçeli wants the confusion over a system change as well as the illegal situation to end,” said the MHP official.

The other opposition parties, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), are against an executive presidency.

The post of the president is largely ceremonial in Turkey; however, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been acting as an executive president since his election to the top state post in August  2014. Erdoğan is a strong supporter of a switch to the presidential system. Yet, critics say Erdoğan wants a “Turkish style” executive presidency without checks and balances, one which is aimed at creating a one-man rule.

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