PM to meet with MHP’s Bahçeli amid presidential system debate

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This handout photo provided by the Turkish Presidential Press Office and released on July 25, 2016 shows Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) shaking hands with Turkey's Chairman of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahceli (R) as Chairman of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Binali Yildirim looks on during a meeting with leaders of Turkey's main political parties in Ankara. Turkish authorities on July 25 issued arrest warrants for over 40 journalists in a new phase of the controversial legal crackdown after the failed coup, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was to host opposition party chiefs for an unprecedented meeting. Over 13,000 people have been detained so far in a vast sweep in the wake of the July 15 coup bid, which the authorities blame on the reclusive US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen. / AFP PHOTO / TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL PRESS OFFICE / KAYHAN OZER

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım will meet with Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli on Monday amid an ongoing debate about a switch to a presidential system of governance in Turkey, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

According to a statement from the Prime Ministry’s Press Office on Sunday, the two leaders will meet at Çankaya Palace at 1:30 p.m.

Bahçeli said in a statement last week that there is a de facto presidential system in Turkey now 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, Yıldırım said his Justice and Development Party (AKP) would submit its own draft constitution for parliamentary approval, including a change to a presidential system.

But a senior MHP official who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity said the 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.

Following his remarks, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) accused Bahçeli of being an ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. CHP spokesperson Selin Sayek Böke called Bahçeli “the spare wheel of the presidential palace” for openly supporting Erdoğan’s controversial attempt to change the system of governance in Turkey.

Bahçeli has been under fire for indirectly supporting Erdoğan and the president’s policies since the June 7, 2015 elections, which had to be held again on Nov. 1, 2015 when no parties were able to form a coalition.

The other opposition parties, the 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 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 that is aimed at creating one-man rule.

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