MHP expels deputy from party after remarks against executive presidency

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(From L) Candidates for the leadership of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Umit Ozdag (L) , Meral Aksener (C) and Sinan Ogan (R) discuss before the opening of MHP congress in Ankara, on June 19, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

The disciplinary board of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has expelled Gaziantep deputy Ümit Özdağ from the party after the deputy publicly announced his opposition to a switch to a presidential system in Turkey.

Özdağ was referred to the MHP’s disciplinary board after he announced last month that he would vote against a constitutional amendment seeking to introduce a presidential system of governance in Turkey if it comes to the floor of Parliament.

Özdağ was expelled from the party by a unanimous vote on Tuesday.

Last month, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli sparked a fresh debate over the introduction of an executive presidency when he said there was a de facto situation in Turkey’s 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.

Bahçeli’s remarks were interpreted as supporting a switch to 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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