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MHP leader Bahçeli calls for referendum on switch to presidential system

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Leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli on Tuesday called for a referendum to decide whether Turkey should adopt an executive presidency, a long-standing aspiration of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“What the MHP has been saying is obvious. The dangerous games being played over the system of governance bear the risk of turning into a regime crisis. The de facto situation should either be eliminated, or it should gain legal status and allow Turkey to find peace. There is nothing wrong in asking the nation their view. We are not afraid of going to the nation,” said Bahçeli, speaking at his party’s parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday.

The MHP leader sparked a debate last week when he said there was a de facto situation in Turkey concerning its style of governance and that President Erdoğan was acting like an executive president although his post is largely ceremonial. Bahçeli said the situation needs to be resolved.

Elaborating on his earlier remarks during Tuesday’s meeting, he said: “I said there is a de facto situation in Turkey and it needs be eliminated. The esteemed president is acting like a de facto executive president. This situation is against the Constitution.”

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

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has 317 deputies in Parliament, needs the support of at least 13 more deputies from opposition parties to take a constitutional amendment on a switch to an executive presidency to a referendum. Currently, there are 133 deputies from the CHP, 59 from the HDP, 40 deputies from the MHP and one independent in the Turkish Parliament.

The MHP leader also said his party is in favor of the continuation of the parliamentary system that is currently in effect.

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 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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