Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan asked supporters on Friday to elect 400 MPs who will vote for a transition from the current parliamentary system to a presidential system that will boost his powers, claiming that this is what it takes to build a “new Turkey.”
“If we want a new Turkey in the June 7 elections, we will elect the 400 deputies. If we want a new constitution, 400 deputies should be elected so that we don’t have to deal with troubles. If we want the presidential system, 400 deputies should be elected,” Erdoğan told a meeting in the north-western province of Bursa.
Although Erdoğan did not specifically name the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) that he co-founded, the reference was clear. “If we want the settlement process [to solve the Kurdish issue to succeed] we need to elect 400 deputies so that a party in firm control of the government can achieve it,” he said.
Erdoğan, the first president elected by direct vote, has been frequently accused of breaking his constitutional promise to remain impartial and above party politics. He officially severed his ties with the AK Party when he was elected president on 10th August, 2014.
However, opposition politicians say that in practice, he campaigns for the AK Party in speeches he delivers virtually every day at different events.
In response, Erdoğan said those who are unhappy with his trips across Turkey “want the president to sit in Ankara and do nothing other than signing papers.”
He said an opposition request filed with the Supreme Election Board (YSK) that the president should refrain from public speeches until the parliamentary elections on 7th June, was turned down.
“We have said that we will not be a president sitting down idly. And you gave us 55 percent of the votes for this reason,” he said, in reference to the vote he got in Bursa in the August 10 election.
Erdoğan has been looking for a way to increase the power of the Presidency, saying it will pave the way for a more effective governance without the “obstacles” raised in the current system by the judiciary and other institutions.
On Friday, he claimed that if an empowered presidential system had already been in place, Turkey would have been in a far better position than it is now. “The current system makes the government spin on its wheels. This wheel-spin effect gets worse and there are even regressions especially when there are serious differences of opinion between the government and the president,” he said.