President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will hold rallies across 40 provinces to seek public support for government plans to introduce an executive presidency, which will be put to a public vote in April, the Hürriyet daily reported on Sunday.
Erdoğan will begin to hold rallies in mid-February in provinces such as İstanbul, Ankara, İzmir, Bursa, Antalya, Konya, Gaziantep, Adana, Samsun, Erzurum, Çanakkale, Kocaeli, Diyarbakır, Yozgat and Van. He will also appear on TV programs to explain the advantages of the introduction of an executive presidency and to ease the concerns of some who fear the system change will create a one-man rule in Turkey.
With support from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) pressed ahead with a constitutional reform package that were recently approved by Parliament and will open the way to a switch from a parliamentary system of governance to an executive presidency in Turkey.
According to the Turkish constitution, a referendum must be held on the first Sunday that falls 60 days after a notification is published in the Official Gazette following the president’s approval of constitutional amendments.
There has been strong opposition to the constitutional amendments over fears of one-man rule in Turkey as it grants extended powers to the president, and Parliament has recently been the scene of altercations between AKP and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies.
During debates on articles of the package in the last two weeks, deliberations on the proposed amendments have given way to brawls among parliamentarians as the constitutional amendment package, which expands the president’s power significantly and brings an executive presidential system to the country, is highly controversial.
With the proposed changes submitted to Parliament by the ruling AKP and the MHP, the president will also be vested with the power to dissolve Parliament.
Erdoğan’s post is largely ceremonial now; however, he has been acting like 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.