Continuing his referendum campaign for an executive presidency in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday that the new system would concentrate power in the hands of one person.
“Since the power of the president and prime minister will be united in one person, there will be no conflict. Haven’t we seen a time in this country when the president threw a booklet of the constitution at the prime minister? Haven’t we experienced that? We will end this. We will concentrate all power in one person and end the era of throwing constitution booklets,” said Erdoğan during a campaign meeting in the eastern the Anatolian city of Elazığ.
Many people believe that the constitutional amendments to be voted in the referendum will pave the way for a one-man regime under Erdoğan, who has already been criticized for being authoritarian as he has purged and jailed countless thousands of critical academics, politicians, teachers, doctors, officials, businessmen, artists and journalists.
Yesterday, Erdoğan claimed that he does not want the change in system of governance for himself.
“I am not so lacking in character as to ask for this system for myself,” Erdoğan said during an opening ceremony for a facility in the heartland Anatolia province of Kahramanmaraş.
However, right after claiming that the transition to an executive presidency was not part of his personal ambitions, Erdoğan added that he has been planning for such a system since his term as mayor of İstanbul in the 1990s.
“The executive presidency has been a project of mine.”
President Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) are pursuing an aggressive propaganda policy ahead of the referendum.
“April 16 will at the same time be an answer for July 15. It will be an important move against July 15. The position of naysayers is to take sides with July 15. Nobody should derive a different meaning from this,” said President Erdoğan last week while talking about the referendum on constitutional amendments that will open the way to a switch from a parliamentary system of governance to an executive presidency.
In a previous statement, Erdoğan as well as Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım accused the potential naysayers in the referendum of taking sides with terrorist organizations.