President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday commented on constitutional amendments that will pave the way for a more powerful head of state, saying that the people strongly support a transition to an executive presidency in the country.
Speaking to reporters at İstanbul Atatürk Airport before his departure for Tanzania, Erdoğan responded to a question about an upcoming referendum on the constitutional amendment package. “We see that our people strongly support the idea of a president tied to a political party. If there had not been such support, we would not have been involved in this kind of an endeavor [changing the system],” Erdoğan told reporters who asked whether he had seen any public opinion polls on the issue.
Erdoğan also denied allegations of regime change, saying that this is not a regime but a system that dates back to the establishment of the Republic of Turkey.
Following the approval of the constitutional amendment package in Parliament, the people will be asked to approve the changes in a referendum that is likely to be held in spring.
Erdoğan ruled out the possibility of a snap election if people approve the referendum.
Critics worry that the proposed changes approved in Parliament with the support of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will end checks and balances and the independence of the judiciary since the president will have the right to dissolve the parliament and appoint all high court judges.
In response to a question on campaigning for the referendum, Erdoğan said there is no obstacle barring him from appearing at rallies, signaling an active campaign for a critical change in the country.