PM Yıldırım unequivally supports Bahçeli’s referendum remarks

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Turkish Prime Minister and leader of Turkey's ruling party, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), Binali Yildirim speaks during AK Party's group meeting at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) in Ankara on October 18, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER

In response to a question aboutstatements made by opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahçeli, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on Tuesday that he is not in a position to comment on Bahçeli’s remarks, which indicated clear agreement on the issue of a referendum for a switch to a presidential system of governance in Turkey.

Earlier on Tuesday, Bahçeli dismissed claims that his party would pursue different policies in Parliament and in a referendum regarding a government proposal for a switch to an executive presidency, saying that if the MHP casts its vote in favor of the proposal in Parliament, it would do likewise in the referendum.

Two weeks ago Bahçeli sparked a fresh debate over the introduction of an executive presidency in Turkey when he said there was a de facto situation in Turkey concerning its style of governance and that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was already acting like an executive president even though his post is largely ceremonial. Bahçeli said the situation needed to be resolved.

Following Bahçeli’s most recent remarks on the transition to an executive presidency, which is opposed by the larger opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Yıldırım said Bahçeli’s statements are hopeful and constructive. ¨It would not be appropriate to say anything beyond his remarks,” said Yıldırım, adding that ¨it is whatever Bahçeli says.”

The rapprochement between the AKP and MHP has become increasingly visible since the June 7, 2015 elections when Bahçeli refused to form a coalition with any party and paved the way for repeat elections that benefitted the AKP. Bahçeli has been criticized by opponents for easing the job for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with his support for AKP policies.

 

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