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PM says Turkey to hold referendum on presidential system ‘as soon as possible’

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Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has said his Justice and Development Party (AKP) will try to ensure that a referendum on Turkey’s switch to an executive presidency is held as soon as possible.

When asked by a reporter before his party’s parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday when a referendum is going to be held on the switch to a presidential system, Yıldırım said, “As soon as possible,” using the English expression.

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli sparked a fresh debate over the introduction of an executive presidency in Turkey 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.

Yıldırım said his party would soon bring a proposal for the introduction of an executive presidency in Turkey to the floor of Parliament.

The 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 referendum. Currently, there are 133 deputies from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), 59 from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), 40 deputies from the MHP and one independent in the Turkish Parliament.

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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